8 Question Types in IELTS Reading and Listening [IELTS Hints]

In order to prepare for the IELTS exam, you need to know the types of question that you will encounter. Once you know these question types, you will be much better prepared to get a high band score. This article will look at the types of questions that appear in the IELTS reading and listening exams – including some question types that appear in both.

Multiple Choice – both

In both the reading and the listening exam, you will very likely encounter multiple choice questions. This means you are asked a question and you must choose from a list – for example, A,B,C,D. Sometimes there are only three options, and sometimes there are more. Four is probably the most common number. This is very common so you should practice these sorts of questions.

Matching Heading – reading

Another very common question type is having to choose from a list of possible headings and add them to the correct section of a reading passage. To do this, you must consider what the topic of each section is, and then choose what you think the most appropriate heading could be. If you are unsure, use the process of elimination to figure out what it couldn’t be.

Identifying Claims/Statements – reading

In the IELTS reading exam, a passage may be up to 1,000 words long and may include ideas or quotations from several different people. You may be asked to attribute an idea to a person mentioned in the text. In this case, you should scan for the person’s name, and examine what they say in order to be sure. You may also be presented with ideas and you have to say what the article’s author’s position is regarding this statement.

True/False/Not Given – reading

In this sort of question, you will be given a statement and you must choose whether it is true, false, or not given. To do this, you must read the article carefully to be sure. It is not an easy question type, but you have a 33% chance of being correct if you just guess.

Summary or Table Completion – both

There are actually quite a few variations on this question type, but in each case you must use words from the text to complete some information. One of the most common ones is a summary, which should be filled out with exact words from the text, but will overall just contain the key ideas. In the listening exam, it is quite common to be presented with some real world example like a timetable, and you should fill in the blanks appropriately.

Form Completion – listening

This may seem similar to the above, but it is different. This section is usually at the beginning of the IELTS listening exam and involves filling in details like name, address, and telephone number. The information you must record is never particularly difficult and certainly there will be no hard words to spell, but you should listen carefully.

Map or Diagram Labeling – listening

Again, this probably sounds similar to the above, but it is very different. The most common way this could be included is when a person describes directions or a layout of an area (usually in or near a university) and you must follow what they say and complete a map. In this case, be aware of direction and location words.

Short Answer Questions – both

Here you are asked a question and you must reply using no more than the number of words stated on the question paper. Sometimes you just need to write down a number. For the listening paper, be particularly careful about spelling.

A Final Word of Advice

It is especially important for the IELTS Reading Exam that you think in terms of synonyms. In the question, you will be given a word or phrase that will likely not appear in the text, but which will have a similar meaning hidden in the text. For example, the question may ask about an appointment, but the text may refer to an arrangement or meeting.

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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  1. How to Answer Multiple Choice Questions [IELTS Listening Tips] - TED IELTS - […] listening exam you will be given four passages with ten questions each. One of the most common question types…
  2. How to Prepare for the IELTS Reading Test - TED IELTS - […] must also be familiar with the question types for the IELTS reading test. These […]

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