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IELTS Academic Reading Score Guide 2023: Expert Tips & Sample Questions

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Did you know if you answer 30 out of 40 questions correctly on the IELTS Reading test, you get an IELTS Academic Reading score of 7.

Understanding the IELTS academic reading score criteria before you start preparation can help you achieve a higher band score.

Most IELTS trainers believe that a IELTS Academic Reading Score of 7 or 8 band will contribute to a good overall band score.

Since the reading section has multiple choice questions and the scoring criteria are not subjective, you can score well and raise your overall IELTS band score with proper preparation and planning.

Time management is key in this section. Even if you’re a voracious reader, the reading section can make you nervous. This blog will highlight IELTS Academic Reading score criteria, calculation, conversion and ways to crack the IELTS reading section with 7+ band score.

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IELTS Academic Reading Score Guide 2023: Expert Tips & Sample Questions

Go through these expert approved tips and bring out your best comprehension abilities on the exam day.

IELTS Academic Reading Score: Everything You Need To Know

The IELTS academic reading score gives insight into your reading abilities to immigration officials and institutions. The section has three long passages with 40 questions from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The three passages are structured in an increasing difficulty pattern.

Wait, before going further we’re revealing something you must be constantly thinking about.

Yes the question types, the reading section consists of various questions like multiple choices, matching headings, True/False/Not Given, summary completion, and sentence completion questions. The questions are designed to test a wide range of reading skills, including skimming, understanding logical arguments, reading for gist, and writers’ purposes.

To familiarise yourself with all the question types and passages, join the IELTS preparation journey with LeapScholar, India’s biggest study abroad platform.

Our exclusive IELTS courses offer group-based learning and 500+ practice questions. You’ll also have 20 hours worth of live classes, 100+ mock tests and all the study materials you’ll ever need. The clock is ticking, and seats are limited, so book your slots right now!

IELTS Academic Reading Score Guide 2023: Expert Tips & Sample Questions

Let’s do Some Maths- Calculate the IELTS Academic Reading Score

The IELTS Academic Reading score is graded on a scale of 1-9. The IELTS Academic reading score is calculated based on the total number of correct answers out of 40. The raw scores obtained from 40 will be further converted to the 1-9 bands. 

Depending on the number of correct answers, the IELTS Academic Reading score can be whole bands like 4 or 5 or half bands like 5.5 or 7.5. Also, if the decimal part exceeds 0.5, the score will be rounded off to the next upper value, i.e. 6.75 will be rounded as 7. And if the decimal point is below, the grade will be rounded off to the lower value, i.e. 7.2 will be rounded as 7.

All the above equations might have blown your minds, let’s make things simple for you!

1. Number of correct answers- 33

Raw score- 33

IELTS reading band score-7.5

2. Number of correct answers – 27

Raw score- 27

IELTS band score- 6.5

Still finding it difficult. Our most efficient IELTS counsellors can make you a master in the A-Z of IELTS. Why don’t you try talking to them. We’re sure all your queries will vanish once you attend our IELTS Masterclass. This 10 hours crash course will cover all aspects of the exam. All four modules are covered with specific tips & strategies provided for each module to give yourself an edge in the exam. Seats are limited, so book your slots!

Understanding the logic of Scoring Criteria with Band Descriptors

The scoring criteria for the IELTS reading module are quite simple. Each question is awarded 1 mark and 0 marks for incorrect answers. Hence there is no negative marking. Thus, you get a raw score for all the right answers that will be converted into a final IELTS Academic Reading score.

The IELTS Academic Reading score descriptors will reveal your English reading skills level. The band score you receive depends on the number of questions you have attempted.

With reference to the IELTS band descriptors, scoring a 7 and above in the reading section will contribute to the final IELTS Academic reading score.

Do you have your IELTS score card in your hand, then let’s check your competency level with this exclusive academic reading band descriptor:

Band scoreLevelDescriptor
9Expert userDepicts that you have a complete hold of the language and can use it fluently and accurately without any grammatical errors.
8Very good userHaving a good command over the language but a little behind in a few unfamiliar situations. Capable of handling complex arguments. 
7Good userHaving an operational command over the language with some misunderstandings in some situations. Able to understand detailed reasoning passages and can handle complex language.
6Competent userAppropriate command of the language is exhibited, along with a few inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and inappropriate word usage at times. 
5Moderate userA partial command over the language. Mistakes are likely to happen, and the candidate can understand the overall meaning in different situations. 
4Limited userBasic competency level only in a familiar situation. Cannot handle complex language and faces difficulty in understanding different concepts.
Extremely limited user
Communicates with many breakdowns. Can understand and convey only in familiar situations with only general meaning. 
2Intermittent userHigh difficulty level in understanding and expressing spoken and written English. Knows only a few selected words or phrases. 
1Non-userNo ability to use the English language at all. Knows only a very limited number of words or phrases used in familiar situations.  

Fun fact: Native Speakers and Non-Native Speakers are of the same level in IELTS and both have the same chance of achieving IELTS Band 8 or 9.

It doesn’t matter from where you are, what matters is how you prepare. Your technique and consistency can get you to the top!

All in one Reading Score chart: Refer to Define Your Scores

Only have your raw scores? We’ll help you get the final score.

With this IELTS Academic Reading score calculator you can convert the raw scores obtained out of 40 into a band score of 1-9. With the analysis you will realize which topics to focus on and improve the necessary skills required.

Total Raw Score39-4037-3835-3632-3430-3126-2923-2518-2216-1713-1510-128-106-74-5

Master IELTS Reading with these Expert tips

A non-native English speaker can easily secure a high IELTS Academic Reading score with consistent practice. To make this possible, you must do some intense reading regularly to improve your reading stamina, vocabulary, grammar and time management skills.

For your reference, we have collated some exclusive preparation tips by experts to help you increase your IELTS Academic Reading score:

Build time management strategies

To make the best of the 60 minutes, you must complete your IELTS reading exam and improve your reading speed when preparing for the exam.

Focus on grammar and vocabulary

Improve your vocabulary knowledge by learning new words and focusing on your grammar. Your vocabulary and grammar contribute to 50% of your total IELTS reading score.

Develop the ability to analyse difficult language

Try ways to analyse complex language, and if you find unfamiliar words, note their meanings and usage. It will allow you to understand the jargon used in professional writing.

Learn synonyms

Keep learning the synonyms of commonly used words. Most of the true and false questions have been paraphrased. If you master synonyms, you can quickly find the keywords and answers.

Learn the art of logical deduction

Make it a habit of identifying the important points and keywords so you can use them to locate the answers easily. This is especially helpful when logical deduction and answering multiple-choice questions.

Also read: Dates of IELTS Exam 2023 – Check IELTS Test Dates & Locations in India!

Some Extra Tips for the Exam Day

These hacks will boost your confidence on the exam day:

Do not read everything

You don’t have the time to read everything. Read the tasks and questions first and think about the key points you need to find to answer those questions.

Skim through paragraphs

Skim-read the summary to get a general understanding of what it’s about. Quickly scan and glance through the material and try to find critical points.

Eventually, the words will pop out as you scan the passages. With practice, you will find this process becomes much easier.

Highlight the keywords 

Pick out a few keywords from the summary to scan for. Names, numbers, places or dates are ideal, as these will be easy to spot if there are any in summary.

Make use of paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a key skill required to score well in IELTS reading. You can paraphrase by using synonyms, changing grammatical structures and phrasal verbs.

Focus on your writing skills too

Even though it is an IELTS Reading task, the examiner will evaluate how you have written the answer after reading the passages.

Make sure the grammar and writing style is appropriate.

Sample Questions & Answers to Ace your IELTS Academic Reading Score

Sample Question 1

MCQ type : Choose one correct answer

Only a tiny fraction of Newton’s work on alchemy has been published, but he wrote around a million words on the subject, including laboratory notes, indexes of alchemical substances and transcripts from other sources.

 On his death in 1727, Newton had over 100 manuscripts filled with alchemical material, sold by auctioneers Sotheby’s as part of a larger collection in 1936. This side of Newton was often an embarrassment to his admirers. His first biographer, John Conduitt, like many commentators who followed, played down the role of alchemy (and other pursuits) in Newton’s work, stating:

“When he was tired with his severe studies, his only relief and amusement were going to some other subjects such as History and Chronology or Divinity and Chymistry”. Just how important the study of alchemy was to Newton only began to be recognised in 1947, when John Maynard Keynes, who bought much of the work from Sotheby’s, declared in his essay, “Newton, the Man, “;” Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians.

1. Many thought Newton was what?

A. tired

B. an embarrassment

C. admired

Ans. B

2. What did Keynes call Newton?

A. old

B. reasonable

C. a magician 


Sample Question 2

Find a suitable heading for the paragraph 

Despite its bad reputation, stress historically had a vital role to play. Commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ mode, the sudden release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol causes the heart to beat faster, airways to dilate and blood vessels to open up, all of which push the body towards optimal performance and, ultimately, survival.

In the rest of the animal kingdom, this is still often the difference between life and death. As he springs off to freedom, the lucky gazelle who escapes the lion can thank this primal evolutionary response.

1. Stress reduction in animals

2. Two types of stress

3. The fallout of cell death.

4. The best type of exercise

5. How stress can be useful

Ans. 5

ielts academic reading score

The IELTS Academic Reading section is easy to score through proper planning, studying, revision and practising as many questions as possible.

Leap Experts suggest it’s best to practice reading from accurate resources to obtain a higher IELTS Academic Reading score. 

With a plethora of information on the internet on IELTS, it’s challenging to decipher credible courses and resources without wasting your time, money and energy.

Worry not; our IELTS experts will help and guide you throughout your IELTS journey. You can join our IELTS  programs to understand better techniques, unlock more practice tests, and get 20 hours’ worth of live classes, 100+ mock tests, and 500+ practice tests.

And, what’s more? The classes are completely flexible, and you can participate in student discussions on telegram. 

Additionally, if you are looking for professional coaching for IELTS, download our IELTS Prep app by LeapScholar is a one-stop solution for your study abroad dream. You can access specially crafted lessons by experts accredited by IDP, British Council, and Cambridge. About 1M+ students have trusted us with their IELTS prep journey. Join us, download our IELTS prep app and get access to the best resources!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many correct responses are needed to get 7+ band IELTS Academic Reading Score?Β 

    For the IELTS Academic Reading section, a band score of 7 requires correctly answering 30 questions, a band score of 8 requires correctly answering 35 questions and a band score of 9 requires successfully answering 40 questions.

  • How can I increase my IELTS academic reading score?

    Reading frequently is one of the finest strategies to increase reading comprehension. Try to read as much in English as you can.

  • What is the raw IELTS Academic reading score?

    The reading section’s total number of accurate responses will count toward the raw score. Each question will receive one mark, and your IELTS raw score will result from that score. The IELTS Reading section carries no failing grades.

  • How is the IELTS Academic Reading score calculated?

    The number of accurate responses provided by candidates is used to calculate the IELTS Reading band score. Each question is worth one mark.

  • Are IELTS retakes allowed for one section?

    From March 2023, test takers who want to get to their desired score may retake one component of the IELTS test.

  • In the IELTS Academic Reading Score, is 6.75 rounded to 7?

    Yes, the test taker’s overall IELTS academic reading score is rounded to the nearest full or half band. For example, your final score will be 7 if your total average is 6.75. Your final score will be 6.5 if your total average is 6.25.

  • Is IELTS Reading challenging?

    The reading portion of the IELTS exam is easy to score with proper planning, study materials, resources, and practice. Leap’s IELTS experts suggest proper planning, studying from credible courses and resources, and practising several sample papers to score high on the Reading test easily.

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Manisha Angre

Experienced IELTS prep trainer and education management industry veteran. Specializes in public speaking, international education, market research, mentoring, and management.

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