Three Passages, One Hour – Reading Skills

November 9, 2016 by Andrea Castro

We all read different kinds of writing every single day, but have you ever thought about how we do this? For example, imagine the following situations. How do we read in each case? Are there differences?

frustrated-guy-at-computer1) An old friend sends you a long e-mail telling you a story about a recent holiday which was a disaster. You read through the e-mail before replying to express sympathy.

2) Later that day, another friend sends you a text message with directions to a party at his house that evening. As you’ve never been to his house before, you read the message before driving to the party.

The reason why we read affects how we read. For instance, in situation #1 we are more likely to read the text quickly to get a general idea, whereas situation #2 requires us to read carefully, in detail.

girl-at-desk-with-white-padding-no-left-paddingAs everyday readers, having the skills required to focus in on the information that is important to us can be greatly beneficial, especially when doing large amounts of reading. Take, for example, the IELTS examination: the Reading module tests your ability to read three lengthy passages (approximately 2750 words), answer 40 questions about the passages, and transfer all your answers onto an answer sheet, all within 60 minutes! Naturally, in such scenarios, the way we read plays a huge role.

So, what are reading skills and how can they help you to become a more efficient reader on your IELTS test?

There are a number of skills involved in reading. The table below summarizes the main aspects of each reading skill and how you can apply them on the IELTS test.


While preparing for IELTS (, practice reading a variety of English texts and concentrate on using appropriate reading skills. Improving your reading skills will not only allow you to be better able to read in a more focused and selective way, but it will also help you to reduce unnecessary reading time. And remember - once you have achieved your IELTS goals, your newly developed skills can also enhance your reading in everyday situations!

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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