4 IELTS Reading Tips to Raise Your Score from a 6 to an 8

This is a guest post by Jessica from

Hello! My name is Jessica, and I’ve been an IELTS teacher for 7 years.

Over the years, students have asked for help on the IELTS reading section.  They’ve told me, “I never have enough time to finish!” and “I can’t get higher than a 6 band score!”

I’m here to tell you that you can finish in enough time and get an 8 band score – if you know the right strategies.

Here are my four tips for getting an 8 or higher in reading:

1) Read the questions first.

A lot of people start reading the passage right away; however, this is actually the wrong thing to do.

You should always go to the questions first.

Read the first question, underline key words that will help you find the answer in the text, and only then start reading the passage.

Then, repeat the same process for the second question.

If you don’t read the questions first, you’ll have no idea what you’re looking for in the text. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time!

2) Read at a normal pace.

Never, ever skim the text!

People think they have to “skim and scan,” so that they don’t run out of time. This is a big reading myth!

Really, when you skim the passage, it’s easy to miss the answers completely. You’ll end up scanning the same text over and over – with no comprehension. Therefore, skimming the text actually makes you run out of time. 

You should read at your normal pace (not too fast and not too slowly).

3) Look for the answers in the right place.

The answers to the questions aren’t in any random place in the passage.

The answers appear in order

You’ll see the answer to Question 1 first, and normally right away. The answer to Question 2 is after the first answer – maybe later in that same paragraph or in the beginning of the next paragraph.

This fact makes it much easier to find the answers, which saves you a lot of time.

4) Study using authentic reading tests.

As you’re studying, you might want to take IELTS reading tests that you find online from random IELTS websites. However, these reading tests can be much easier than the real IELTS test, leaving you unprepared on test day.

You should practice with free, online exam questions created by official IELTS organizations, like the British Council, IDP, and Cambridge English. These questions will most closely resemble the actual test and will best prepare you for your upcoming IELTS exam.

Free practice questions from Cambridge Assessment English

Free practice tests from the British Council

Free practice questions from IDP

You can also buy Cambridge IELTS books with “authentic examination papers.”

Remember: the people who do best on the reading exam have practiced hundreds of actual reading questions and several full reading tests.

These are the four tips you can use immediately to raise your reading score from a 6 to an 8, as many of my students have done in the past.

Happy IELTS studying, and good luck on your test!

Jessica Marshall, along with her sister, Shannon, are experienced IELTS teachers whose students have moved to Canada, the UK, and other countries after getting a 7.5 or higher on their IELTS tests.

Go to their website to get their best strategies for all four sections of the IELTS exam!