Help students to prepare for the academic reading component of the IELTS exam.


In this article, we will look at helping students:

  • Practise questions in the academic reading component
  • Understand how to match headings with paragraphs
  • Understand the purpose of paragraph headings
  • Complete their answer sheet correctly
  • Understand the difference between fact and opinion

The exercises referred to in this article, along with the answer key, can be found attached below. The exercises may be used with different levels depending on how much help you want to give your students. Exercises 4, 5 and 6 are more suitable for lower level students.

Exercises 1 and 2

  • Give the students Exercise 1 on its own without the reading passage. Ask them in pairs to go through the alternative headings and decide what the meaning of each heading is.
  • When the students have finished, elicit answers from the class as a whole.
  • When you have gone through all of the headings ask the students what they think the passage is about using evidence in the headings.
  • Give the students the reading passage and ask them to do Exercise 2. This can be done individually or in pairs or groups. If it is done individually, ask the students to compare their answers with a partner when they have finished.
  • Go through the answers with the whole class, or give the students the key and ask them to check the answers themselves. Ask them to explain the correct answer to you.
  • When they have done this, take any questions regarding the exercise.

Exercise 3

  • You can give the students the questions and ask them to do the reading test on their own.


  • Give the students the questions relating to the text. Tell them that they are going to focus on the meaning of the questions rather than the text.
  • Tell them not to look at the reading passage, but to analyse the questions. For example, with questions 1-5 you may want to ask the students to work out the meaning of the statements.
  • If your students are of a lower level, tell them the answers are in paragraphs A and B only. Tell the students that there are three Yes answers, one No and one Not Given.
  • For questions 6-10, ask students to try and match the statements by thinking about the sense of two parts of the sentence and the grammar.
  • For questions 11-15, ask them to try to fill the blanks with their own words. They may only be able to do one, but ask them to try.


  • For all levels, give the students the reading passage, the questions and the answer key.
  • Ask them to find the answers in the text and work out why the answers are correct. Then ask them to explain the answers to you. You can if you want role-play with a difficult student.

Exercise 4

  • This exercise is suitable for lower level students, but may also benefit higher levels. It will help them later to focus on being careful.
  • Divide the students into pairs or groups. Give the students the reading text and the Student’s Answer Sheet. Ask them to check the Answer Sheet for mistakes and correct them.
  • Give the students the key for the exercise and ask them to check the answers.
  • Ask students to identify what kind of mistakes they normally make in reading.
  • Where possible, always ask your students to write their answers on a separate answer sheet when they do a reading exercise. Also when they have finished a reading test, ask them to check for spelling, grammar and whether the answers are written in the correct space.

Exericse 5

  • Give the exercise to students and ask them to work in pairs and add the extracts to the relevant place in the reading passage.Tell them to work out why the extracts fit.
  • You may do this as a separate exercise or as a pre-reading before the other exercises to help students focus on the text generally.

Exercise 6

  • Divide the students into pairs/groups. Give them the list of headings and the reading passage and ask them to decide why the headings are not suitable. You may wish to do this before you do Exercises 1 and 2 or in isolation.
  • If you think the students are able to, ask them to correct or write their own headings.
  • Knowing that the headings in the exercise are wrong, they should be able to focus on the meaning of each paragraph.

Exercise 7

  • This exercise may be done before or after any of the other exercises. You may want to use it as a pre-reading exercise: ask the students to find the words as fast as possible and then to work out the meanings one at a time.
  • To do this, give the students the exercise with the reading passage and then ask them to reveal the words one at a time. They can use a sheet of paper to hide the other words. Limit or stop-watch the time available to find and analyse. The exercise can be turned into a pair/group competition.


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