How much time to allocate for each section in IELTS Reading?

A clock embedded into a book, with the text "IELTS Reading: how much time for each section?"

Reading is one segment that can really boost your overall IELTS score. For this reason, it is important that you prepare well for Reading.

In both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, in Reading you will have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions. These 60 minutes include the time you will take to read the passages, read the questions, answer the questions, and recheck your answers.

A clock embedded into an open book.

Let’s do some oversimplified math. 40 questions in 60 minutes averages out to 1.5 minutes per question. But of course, it’s not that simple.

There are three sections within the Reading segment. 3 sections in 60 minutes translate to 20 minutes per section. But again, it’s not that simple.

The correct answer is a combination of the above.

So, to do your best in IELTS Reading, spend no more than 20 minutes on each section. If you want to spend more time on one section, make sure to finish the other two sections. You should also leave time to review your answers before completing the Reading segment.

Here’s a bonus tip. The level of difficulty in IELTS reading usually increases from section one to section two and then to section three. It means that section one is the easiest of all. Section three is normally the most difficult part. So if you want to get a higher score, we say that you should try to spend less time in section one to take that amount of time to put in section three, to make sure that you have a little bit more time to tackle the difficult questions.

As a result, time management is a crucial part of a successful IELTS exam, which is discussed in detail in our iconic self-study series Everything IELTS – The Comprehensive Guide to IELTS. If you are struggling with IELTS Reading, contact us.

As our motto goes, “Practice makes 9.0,” you can get free practice tests on

Have fun learning!

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Huyen Nguyen

Founder of Practice9, creator of IELTS with Huyen. Huyen has 10 years of experience with IELTS, overall 8.5.

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