IELTS Reading Task 3 Guides and Tips

A lot of candidates consider the IELTS Reading Test to be the most challenging part of the IELTS and leave the testing room not feeling confident of how they perform in this part of the test. 

The IELTS Reading Task 3, for instance, being the last and most difficult part, has greatly affected the overall band score of most candidates. Are you worried about how you will fare in the IELTS Reading Test? You are in luck; this page is here to help you.

This article focuses on the IELTS Reading Task 3 (Part3). Please continue reading to find out more. 

IELTS Reading Overview 

The IELTS Reading Test comes right after the IELTS Listening Test.

You are not given any extra time to transfer your answers, so you have to write your responses to the answer sheet right away. 

The IELTS Reading Test takes one hour to complete.

While the IELTS Academic and General Training modules have different materials, the types and quantity of questions are the same. The General Training module‘s papers are often shorter and easier to read, and they cover a wide range of intellectual, social, and professional topics.

The Academic module’s readings, on the other hand, are lengthier and more difficult than those required of standard applicants. Magazines, books, and journals are used to compile intellectual materials.

Three texts (Task 1, Task 2, and Task 3), generally ranging from 500 to 900 words, must be read. There are 40 questions to answer, and all of them are different types of questions.

It is used to evaluate a range of reading skills, including details, gist, and primary concepts; logical reasoning; understanding writers’ views and viewpoints; and skimming.

IELTS Reading Task 3 Reading Tips

Task 3, the third portion of the IELTS Reading Test, comes after Task 2 and is regarded as the most difficult among the three IELTS Reading tasks.

The texts in the IELTS Academic and General Training modules are different, but they will assess the same skills, as previously indicated.

Please refer to the list we have supplied for some advice while preparing for the IELTS Reading Task 3 to assist you to get a suitable band score.

  • Read the questions first. 

To make it easier to identify answers afterward, read each question carefully before responding.

While reading, make a list of possible replies. Make notes or even highlight any piece of the text. 

  • Skim and scan for ideas. 

Start by skimming the content to acquire a feel of what the IELTS Reading Task 3 is about.

Once you are comfortable with it, read it attentively, bearing in mind the questions you need to answer.

  • Be mindful of your grammar and spelling. 

Make sure there are no grammatical problems when answering questions kinds that need you to write an answer. In the IELTS Reading Task 3, the importance of grammatical intuition, spelling, and sentence structure should not be overlooked. 

  • Be mindful of the time.

You have exactly an hour to respond to 40 questions, so make the most of it. Each section should be completed in no more than 20 minutes.

Allow 16-17 minutes for reading and answering the questions, plus 3-4 minutes for transferring and reviewing your answers. 

  • Do not leave any item unanswered. 

The IELTS does not deduct points for any wrong answer. This implies that if you do not know the answer to a specific question, try making a guess. You have nothing to lose.

Also, do not take so much of your time figuring out the answer to a specific question. Proceed to the next question and if there is still time, go back to that question. 

Helpful Tips for the IELTS Reading Task 3 Questions

The IELTS Reading Task 3 has a range of questions. You must acquaint yourself with all of them so you can comfortably respond to them on test day.

The IELTS Reading Task 3 question types for both the Academic and General Training modules are mentioned below.

Matching Headings to Paragraphs

A list of headers will be shown to you. In the instructions, four to six paragraphs from the reading passage will be highlighted.

For each paragraph, you must choose the most acceptable headline.


  • Before reading the headlines, read the questions first.
  • Always keep in mind that there are generally more headings than you require.
  • Before attempting to match the headings to the paragraphs, examine them.
  • Be aware that the responses are not presented in any particular sequence.
  • Separate the main concepts from the supporting elements in the paragraph.

Classification Questions

A number of statements or phrases is given and you need to classify them according to the information given in the reading text. 


  • Read the questions first. 
  • Skim and scan for ideas. 
  • Be aware that the responses come in order. 
  • Watch out for paraphrased and reworded phrases and questions. 
  • Know that some answers or options may be used more than once. 

Sentence Completion

You will be given unfinished sentences to complete. You should fill in the gaps with details from the material you have read.


  • Recognize the appropriate word type for each statement. (nouns, verbs, adjectives…)
  • Determine which section of the text contains the answer.
  • Look for tips and context clues to help you figure out the correct answer.
  • Check the required word count for each response.
  • Remember that the answers usually come in a specific order.

True/False or Yes/No Not Given Questions

There are several statements, and you must decide whether or not the information is contained in the passage.


  • Examine the responses for meaning:

Yes/True – The assertion is accurate or specifically mentioned in the text.

No/False – The statement is erroneous or missing from the text.

Not Given – The statement is not found in the text.

  • Reword the sentences before looking for answers in the text.
  • Remember that the answers are listed in chronological sequence.

How to Prepare for the IELTS Reading Task 3?

Preparing for the IELTS Reading Task 3 is essential because it is tagged the most challenging section of the IELTS Reading Test. You must not show up to the testing site unprepared on the day of the test.

Otherwise, you are more likely to not get your desired band score and eventually waste your time and effort preparing.

Continue reading to learn some tried-and-true strategies for preparing for the IELTS Reading Task 3.

  • Practice timed-reading. 

The IELTS Reading Test lasts about an hour. This means that you get approximately 20 minutes each task.

Unlike reading for pleasure where you can pause every now and then, you do not get this luxury in the IELTS Reading Task 3.

Therefore, we encourage that you set a timer every time you read while preparing for the test.

Keep in mind that 20 minutes is not a long time. Also, lack of time might cause you panic which might affect your performance.


  • Enhance your vocabulary. 

While the IELTS Reading Task 3 is a ‘reading’ test, it is more of a vocabulary test. Improving your vocabulary is a must.

You will not be able to comprehend what you are reading if you are not familiar with the terms in the text.

Make it an effort to learn how to paraphrase and identify synonyms. They will indeed come in handy in the IELTS Reading Task 3. 

  • Get to know the different types of questions. 

In the IELTS Reading Task 3, different question types will be asked. Each type requires a different strategy to effectively answer them.

Prior to taking the test, we strongly recommend that you study these types of questions.

This will provide you with the assurance you require so that answering them on the day of the test is not new for you. 

  • Utilize and take advantage of every reading material you have.

Read a lot, and when we say a lot, we mean all the time, every chance you can get.

Reading improves your vocabulary and reading speed, which is crucial in the IELTS Reading Task 3.

You can read books, magazines, newspapers, and yes, even flyers and brochures. It does not matter what you read, as long as you do. 

  • Utilize past IELTS papers and other practice tests. 

The IDP and British Council websites offer past papers for the benefit of those who plan to take the IELTS test. Take advantage of them.

There are also a lot of websites, just like ours, that offer free practice papers that will gauge your IELTS Reading skills.

Make it a habit to answer these practice tests at least twice a week to determine if you are improving and getting to your target band score. 

IELTS Reading Task 3 Practice Questions

There is no greater approach to making yourself ready for the IELTS Reading Task 3 than to answer actual practice questions.

It gives you the familiarity and confidence you need because it makes you feel that you are not taking the test for the first time.

Please refer to the practice questions we have below as you get yourself ready to take the IELTS Reading Task 3. 

IELTS Reading Task 3 – Academic 

Reading Passage:

A According to a survey, harsh and uneven marking is discouraging students in England from learning languages beyond the age of 14. According to the British Council’s research and the Education Development Trust, the introduction of more challenging GCSEs will further erode interest in languages. It claims that a concentration on math and science, as well as the belief that languages are a difficult option, demotivates students and teachers.

B Exams watchdog Ofqual said the language results from last year were ‘extremely stable’. New GCSE and A-level contemporary language syllabuses will be taught in England starting in September 2016, with new exams taking place in the summer of 2018. The Language Trends Survey, now in its 14th year of tracking the condition of language learning in England’s schools, shows that these changes will discourage students from studying languages, particularly at A-level. “One of the major challenges to the successful growth of language teaching is the test system,” it reads. “The relative difficulty of language tests compared to other disciplines, as well as widespread reports of harsh and inconsistent grading, are extremely demotivating for both students and teachers.”

C “The EBacc, which requires students to study English, a language, math, science, geography or history to GCSE, looks like it is having very little impact on the numbers of students choosing languages post-16,” according to the research. After GCSE, there is a specific concern about uptake, with some public institutions claiming that the tiny number of students choosing languages as an A-level subject means the subject is becoming “financially unviable.”

D Between 2014 and 2015, the proportion of the entire cohort taking a GCSE in a language fell by one percentage point (to 48 percent), putting a halt to the upward trend in entries that began in 2012 with the introduction of the EBacc. Each of the three major languages had a decrease in entries this year compared to 2014: German is down 10%, French is down 6%, and Spanish is down 3%. Generally, A-level language entries are 94 percent of what they were in 2002, and they fell by 3% between 2014 and 2015, with French down 1% and German down 2.5 percent, while Spanish uptake increased by about 15%.

E The report did recognize some good developments, particularly at the elementary school level, stating that just over half of England’s primary schools now have access to language teaching specialists. However, primary schools say it’s difficult to incorporate languages into the given curriculum time and to find trained teachers. “Languages are already one of the difficult GCSEs, and teachers believe that with the new tests, it will be even tougher for students to earn a decent score,” Teresa Tinsley, a co-author of the paper, said. When you combine this with the anticipation that a larger spectrum of students will take the exam, it’s no surprise that teachers are worried. If languages are to survive in our classrooms, we must improve their morale and faith in the exam system.”

F “We are dedicated to ensuring that all GCSEs, AS- and A-levels, including those in modern foreign languages, are sufficiently valid, provide fair and trustworthy results, and have a beneficial influence on teaching and learning,” an Ofqual spokesman said. The previous year’s data in modern foreign languages were fairly consistent, with just minor fluctuations in the proportions of students who received each grade compared to the year before. “We investigated complaints that pupils are finding it more difficult to attain the highest grades in A level language. We discovered that this is due to the way the tests are designed, rather than the nature of the topic content. “We are looking into it and will be posting more information shortly.”

G “Before we accredit a qualification, we check that the exams are designed to allow for good differentiation – including that the brightest students will be capable of achieving the highest grades – and that they are properly premised on a different subject content,” the spokesman said, referring to new modern foreign language A-levels and GCSEs that will be taught starting in September.

H “The country’s present shortage of language skills is projected to be costing the economy tens of billions in missing trade and economic opportunities every year,” said Mark Herbert, head of schools programs at the British Council. “Parents, schools, and companies can all play a role in encouraging our children to study languages in school and restoring the respect and prominence that language learning deserves. The decrease in kids selecting for GCSE and A-level languages is worrying, particularly when coupled with teachers’ loss of faith in the exam system,” said Tony McAleavy, head of research and development at the Education Development Trust. To provide languages a stronger place in the curriculum, make languages more interesting for students who find the examination procedure a hurdle, and raise teacher morale, solutions are needed.”

Questions 1-6:

A-H are the eight paragraphs in the reading text. Choose the most appropriate paragraph heads from the list and fill in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet with the correct letter, A-H.

  1. Information on studying
  2. Consistent outcomes
  3. Significant economic losses
  4. Exams’ objectivity
  5. The most crucial factor in languages’ ability to thrive
  6. Ineffective influence on students

Questions 7-10:

Sort the events by the dates shown below.

A. 2014 – 2015

B. 2016

C. 2018

D. None of the above

  1. A 48% drop in GCSE results
  2. England has a new syllabus system
  3. The beginning of new examinations
  4. The increase in applications

IELTS Reading Task 3 – General Training

Reading Passage:

What to do in case of fire?

Fire drills are an important aspect of being safe at school because they prepare you for what to do in case of fire. But what if there was a fire in your neighborhood? Would you know what to do in this situation? It’s scary to talk about flames because no one wants to think about people getting hurt or their belongings being burned. However, being prepared can help you feel less anxious.

It’s a good idea for families to discuss how they’d get out of a fire. Different tactics will be used by different households. Some children live in one-story homes, while others live in multi-story complexes. Let’s start by talking about escape strategies and escape routes.

How to Get Out:

A family escape plan can help everyone get out of a burning house. The goal is to go outside as soon as possible while remaining safe. Because smoke from a fire might make it difficult to see where things are, it’s critical to study and remember the various exit routes. What is the total number of exits? How do you get from your room to them? Drawing a map of the escape plan with your family is an excellent idea.

Because one exit may be blocked by fire or smoke, you’ll need to know where the others are. You’ll also want to know how to get to the stairs or other emergency exits if you reside in an apartment building.

Safety Procedures:

If you’re in a room and the door is shut when the fire starts, you’ll need to take extra precautions:

  • Check for smoke or heat coming in through the crevices surrounding the door. (You’re looking to see if the other side is on fire.)
  • If you detect smoke coming from beneath the door, don’t try to open it!
  • If there is no smoke, touch the door. Do not open the door if it is hot or really hot!
  • If there is no smoke and the door is not hot, lightly touch the doorknob with your fingers. Don’t try to open the door if the doorknob is hot or extremely hot!

If the doorknob is cool to the touch and there is no smoke visible around the door, open it gently and carefully. If a flash of heat or smoke enters the room when you open the door, instantly close it and double-check that it is completely shut. If there is no smoke or heat when you open the door, go to your escape path.

Questions 1-6:

Complete the following sentences. For each answer, select no more than TWO WORDS from the reading text.

  1. Some people live in tall structures, while others live in a ______________. 
  2. It is critical to discuss escape ______________ and ______________ with your children.
  3. Creating a ______________ is an excellent option because it can assist you in escaping.
  4. If you reside in an apartment, you must know how to go to the stairwell or other ______________.
  5. Only open the door if the ______________ is not heated and there is no smoke visible around it.
  6. If smoke ______________ the room, you must close the door quickly.

Questions 7-10. 

Which of the statements below best defines the information presented in the reading text? Fill in the gaps for numbers 7-10 on your response sheet.

True – The statement approves of the details mentioned in the passage.

False – The statement disapproves of the details mentioned in the passage. 

Not Given – The information could not be found in the passage.  

  1. Planning ahead of time to escape the fire is critical.
  2. If you’re trapped in a room and notice smoke coming from the next room, open the door and run to the exit.
  3. A hot door indicates that you should not open it to escape.
  4. If everything looks fine and in order when you open the door, proceed to the exit.

Answer Key

IELTS Reading Task 3 – Academic
1. D
2. F
3. H
4. G
5. E
6. C
7. A
8. B
9. C
10. D
IELTS Academic Task 3 – General Training
1. one-story houses
2. plans, routes
3. map
4. emergency exits
5. doorknob
6. pours
7. True
8. False
9. True
10. True

Additional FAQs – IELTS Reading Task 3

How Many Questions are There in IELTS Reading 3?

There are a total of 40 questions in the entire IELTS Reading test, which implies that there will be approximately 13-15 questions in each of the three tasks.

You are encouraged to spend 20 minutes on each task to give you a better chance of managing your time well.

Spend about 17 minutes answering the questions and around 3 minutes writing your answers on your answer sheet. 

How Can I Practice for the IELTS Reading Test?

You can practice for the IELTS Reading Test by improving your grammar and vocabulary, reading a lot (newspapers, magazines, books, etc), and answering practice tests designed specifically for IELTS.

It also benefits you if you acquaint yourself with the different question types prior to taking the test. These strategies will surely make you more confident to help you achieve your desired band score.