Common reading mistakes to avoid on the IELTS exam and how to fix them


If you're preparing for the IELTS exam, you know that the reading test can be challenging. With only 60 minutes to complete three reading passages and answer 40 questions, it's essential to use your time wisely and avoid common mistakes. In this blog post, we'll discuss some common reading mistakes to avoid on the IELTS exam and how to fix them.

Mistake #1: Not previewing the passage

One common mistake that many IELTS test-takers make is not previewing the passage before they start reading. Previewing the passage involves looking at the title, headings, and any graphics or images. This will give you an idea of what the passage is about and what to expect. By previewing the passage, you can better understand its overall structure and purpose, which will help you navigate the text more effectively.

How to fix it:

Take a few seconds to preview the passage before you start reading. Look for any standout information, such as bold or italicized words, that may be important for understanding the overall message of the passage. This will help you get an idea of the passage's main ideas and structure and allow you to approach the text with a clear purpose in mind.

Mistake #2: Not skimming for main ideas

Another common mistake is not skimming for main ideas as you read. Skimming involves quickly reading through a text to get a general understanding of its content. When you skim, you're not trying to absorb every word and detail. Instead, you're looking for the main ideas and any standout information that catches your eye. Skimming is useful for getting an overview of a text and deciding if it's worth reading in more depth.

How to fix it:

As you start reading the passage, skim for the main ideas. Look for words like "most," "often," "always," and "never," as these can give you an idea of the author's main points. You can also look for transition words like "however," "although," and "therefore," which signal a change in the author's thought process. Skimming will help you get an overview of the passage and identify the most important information.

Mistake #3: Not taking notes

Not taking notes while you read is another common mistake that can hinder your understanding of the passage. Taking notes involves summarizing important information and writing it down in a way that is easy for you to understand and reference later. By taking notes, you can retain important

information and improve your understanding of the text. It also helps you stay focused and engaged with the material, which can be especially helpful for long and complex passages.

How to fix it:

There are many different ways to take notes while reading. Some people prefer to create an outline, while others prefer to make a mind map or use highlighting or underlining. The method you choose will depend on your personal preference and the nature of the text. The important thing is to find a method that works for you and helps you engage with the material. Experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you.

Mistake #4: Not practicing active reading

Another common mistake is not practicing active reading, which involves actively engaging with the text and asking yourself questions as you read. Active reading helps you better understand and interpret the passage, and it can also make reading more enjoyable and engaging. Some questions you might ask yourself include:

  • What is the main idea of the passage?
  • What are the supporting details?
  • What is the author's purpose in writing the passage?
  • What is the tone of the passage?
  • How do the ideas in the passage relate to my own knowledge and experience?

How to fix it:

To practice active reading, try asking yourself the questions listed above as you read. You can also try making notes or summarizing the passage in your own words. By actively engaging with the material, you'll be better able to understand and interpret the text and increase your chances of success on the IELTS reading test.


The IELTS reading test can be challenging, but by avoiding common mistakes and using the strategies outlined above, you can improve your reading comprehension skills and increase your chances of success. By previewing the passage, skimming for main ideas, taking notes, practicing active reading, and practicing regularly, you'll be well-equipped to handle the demands of the IELTS reading test and achieve the score you're aiming for.