Tips for IELTS – Reading
At Rose of York, we understnad that the IELTS exam can be intimidating. But, don’t worry – we are here to help. Here are our Tips for IELTS!
The IELTS reading section consists of three different tasks and you will have 60 minutes to complete it. You don’t have any choice of tasks. The 3 texts are from various sources like books, journals, magazines and newspapers. There are a total of 40 questions to answer over the three texts and at least one text will contain arguments and/or views.
You will be tested with many different question types for example:
- Choosing a suitable paragraph heading
- Identification of information using True / False / Not Given statements
- Identification of the writer’s claims using Yes / No / Not Given
- Short answer
- Sentence / summary completion
- Notes / summary / flow-chart / table completion
- Labelling a diagram
1. Skim reading
Skimming is an essential skill for the IELTS reading test. Skimming is reading a passage to get a general idea of the content. Read the questions quickly first, then skim the reading text. You don’t need to understand the whole text. Skimming will give you a sense of the topic and content. You should skim read the passage in 2 to 3 minutes. When you skim read, remember that you can usually get a general understanding from the first sentence and the last sentence in each paragraph – you do not need to read the full text.
Scanning is also an essential skill in finding the correct answer. Read the questions and underline the keywords, then scan to locate the information you need. When you are scanning, the keywords you highlighted should help you to answer the questions – remember that the questions and the text will not always contain the same vocabulary.
3. Speed reading
You will need to develop your reading skills as there is a lot of reading to do in a very short time. Pay attention to your timing. If you don’t understand a question or passage don’t spend too long on it, move on to the next question.
4. Read the questions carefully
Make sure you understand the questions and follow the instructions carefully. Pay attention to the word limit. If it asks you to complete a sentence using no more than 3 words, make sure you just write 3 words or fewer otherwise it will be marked incorrect.
Don’t try to understand the full passage: Remember your task is to locate the answers only; you don’t have to understand the whole text or even all of the vocabulary. Most questions test your ability to locate specific information given to you and then to comprehend the sentence or sentences which contain the information. There are only 2 types of questions that require a more detailed understanding – matching headings and choosing a title. For these questions, use the keywords to help you understand the general idea of the paragraph.
Don’t panic if you do not know anything about the subject of the text, all the answers can be found in the text. Each question will have keywords to help you locate the information in the passage and to spot the right answer. Some of the keywords are paraphrased. Some keywords are more obvious such as names, dates, numbers and places etc. Other keywords are more subtle – and you need to think about synonyms or words or phrases that have a similar meaning to those used in the question. Just remember our handy little Tips for IELTS, and hopefully it’ll be smooth sailing.
6. Learning Vocabulary
It’s important to have a good understanding of vocabulary. When you learn new vocabulary don’t just learn the meaning of the word, the word type e.g. verb or adjective, learn when you can and can’t use it. Also think about what collocations can be used with words. The words you use must be taken form the text; don’t change the form of the words in your answers.
Question types such as summary completion and sentence completion require that the sentence is grammatically correct, make sure you read your answers before you finish the test and that they all make grammatical sense. Also be careful to use singular and plural nouns correctly.
Attempt all questions: There are no penalties for incorrect answers, so you have nothing to lose. If you don’t know an answer, guess what it could be – you might get lucky.
8. Answer sheet
All of your answers need to be transferred onto the answer sheet. You get no extra time to do this so you must make sure you leave enough time at the end to transfer your answers. While you are transferring your answers use this time to check your spelling and grammar.
9. Practise, Practise, Practise
Practise really does make perfect, the more you practise the skills needed above the easier you will find the test. Have a look at the link below where you can find practise tests online.
Free IELTS practice tests: IELTS practice tests
Keep tuned for more Tips for IELTS.