The IELTS Reading Test is tough, and the biggest problem is that we hardly ever read the type of texts that we have to read in IELTS.
The only way to get better at IELTS Reading is to read more of these text-types.
Here are the top 10 sources that I recommend.
Get the links in the flipbook below, or download my free booklet.
1. Cambridge IELTS Test Books
These official Cambridge IELTS Practice Test Books should be your starting point.
IELTS tests are written in a very specific way, so I recommend that you spend the majority of your preparation time studying them.
The earlier books (before Book 9) are not as relevant as the later ones, so start with the most recent one (Book 17) and work backwards.
You can also use the free practice tests on the official IELTS sites (I’ve added the links that take you directly to the Reading Practice section)
2. New Scientist
I’ve googled a lot of IELTS Reading tests over the years, and very often they come from the New Scientist Magazine, for example ‘Why fairy tales are really scary tales’ from Cambridge Book 15 Test 3 Passage 3.
3. BBC News
This is another website where I have found many IELTS Reading Passages, for example the Book 15 Test 4 Passage 2 can be found here: Silbo gomero – a whistling language revived.
4. Live Science
Here’s where I found Book 16 Test 1 Passage 2: The Step Pyramid of Djoser.
5. World History Encyclopedia
I’ve found quite a few IELTS Reading passages from this site.
- The White Horse of Uffington (Book 16 Test 2 Passage 1)
- Roman Shipbuilding (Book 16 Test 3 Passage 1)
6. The Independent
This newspaper prides itself on being unbiased, and provides a variety of scientific, evidence-based articles which are perfect for IELTS.
I found these texts there:
- The Huarango (Book 15 Test 4 Passage 1)
- Climate change reveals ancient artefacts in Norway’s glaciers (Book 16 Test 3 Passage 2)
7. National Geographic
You are prompted to sign up to the paid subscription, but there are many here that you can read for free if you register a free account.
Australian Geographic is also a useful source, as so many of the IELTS texts are related to Australia
8. Other ‘science’ sites
There are quite a few science sites. These 2 have been recommended by my students
- The Scientist (Science news and educational articles)
- Science Focus (The home of BBC Science Focus magazine)
- Science Daily – short, manageable IELTS-style passages
9. The Economist
There are often articles related to business and the economy in Passage 3 and they come from random sites like this one about the Future of Work (Book 16 Test 1 Passage 3).
10. Learner sites
My personal favourite is Wonderopolis – it looks a bit ‘childish’ but the texts are excellent for IELTS prep, with lots of interactivity and a focus on vocabulary.
Newsela has news articles that you can choose according to your reading level by changing the number of words.
I also love CommonLit.org – it’s free and if you join my Members Academy you get an upgraded account with more features such as audio text reader.
Reading only gets easier if you read the right type of texts frequently.
Recent research has shown that the impact of reading on a screen has been very damaging (there is even an IELTS Reading – Book 16 Passage 4 Test 2– about the changes in our reading habits and how the way we read these days means that we can no longer read complex texts).
What can you do about it?
- Print off texts and write on them. Sorry, I know it’s not great for the environment but engaging with the written word in a deliberate and focused way is the only way to fully understand a text.
- Set aside a specific time of the day when you just READ.
- Do this without distractions.
- Always have a pencil to underline and take notes.
- Organise your notebook – review it once a week.
More Reading Tips
All my Reading Lessons are listed here.
How to read faster (IELTS Reading Time Management)
True, False, Not Given Introduction (Building the Pyramids)
Difficult Gapped Summaries (The history of the tortoise)
How to match information (Glow Worms)
Matching Information (How to identify keywords)
How to complete a table (Stepwells)
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Get all the Reading Lessons here.
- 5 types of Matching Questions
- How many IELTS Reading Question types are there?
- How to read faster (IELTS Reading Time Management)
- True, False, Not Given Introduction (Building the Pyramids)
- Difficult Gapped Summaries (The history of the tortoise)
- How to match information (Glow Worms)
- Matching Information (How to identify keywords)
- How to complete a table (Stepwells)
- How to answer True/False/Not Given questions (Pyramids)
- Yes, No, Not Given
- Flow Charts (7 tips – Tortoise text)