IELTS Tips: Advice for the Reading Section
The articles are too long. The vocabulary is too difficult. There is not enough time. The test taker beside me is reading out loud and the lady in front of me is tapping her foot. These are just some of the comments that I have heard from recent test takers in regards to the Reading Section. Here are some tips and advice on how to handle the IELTS Reading Section.
1) Use clear penmanship - I know this does not seem important but it is crucial. If the marker cannot read you answer (even one letter), it will be wrong. Answers can be submitted in either print or cursive but make sure they are neat and clear. Good time management skills can ensure that you use your best handwriting. I have seen many test takers rushing to fill in their answers which usually leads to poor handwriting.
*Tip - Proofread at the end, focusing on the legibility of your answers.
2) Watch your spelling and grammar - IELTS does not give you points for effort. "Oh, that looks like the right answer" or "That is close so let's give it to them" are phrases that you will never hear in the IELTS world. If it is spelled incorrectly, it is wrong, and if it is the wrong part of speech or word form, it is also wrong. Pluralization also matters. For example, in the following answer, 'cows' is correct, so if you write 'cow', it is wrong.
The farmer had a very productive day because all six _______ produced milk this morning. (cows = correct but cow = incorrect)
*Tip - Try to proofread your answers after you have transferred them onto the answer sheet.
3) Read instructions carefully - Instructions tell you exactly what to do. Two things to focus on are word limits and what type of answer is required (NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS, True/False/Not Given, etc.). Giving extra information will also make for an incorrect answer. Look at this example:
WRITE NO MORE THAN ONE WORD.
Q - The witness stated that the ____________ car caused the accident. (blue)
A - fast blue (wrong - word limit)
A - blue car (wrong - word limit)
A- blue (right)
A - bule (wrong - spelling)
*Tip - If the question asks you to choose the answer from a list (A,B,C, etc), just write the letter that corresponds with the answer because it is not necessary to write out the long form of the answer. This will save time and could eliminate incorrect answers due to poor handwriting. Look at this example:
Choose the correct letter A, B, C, or D.
Q - Who won the 2015 MLB championship?
A - Montreal Canadians
B - Toronto Blue Jays
C - Kansas City Royals
D - Kansas City Chiefs
The answer is C, so just write C on the answer sheet because it is not necessary to write the full answer of Kansas City Royals.
4) Use a variety of reading techniques - Be flexible by using a variety of reading skills. Here are some typical reading skills that test takers use:
Skimming - reading quickly for general meaning
Scanning - looking for specific information
Gist reading - reading for main ideas
Key words - reading for a specific word (be careful because the questions tend
to use synonyms)
*Tip - One successful method is to read the questions first so you know what information you are looking for. You can underline or circle the key words to reinforce this stagey.
*Tip - Use fast reading strategies to point yourself in the right direction but then use detailed reading to find the correct answer.
*Tip - While reading, make sure to underline key information or make notes in the margins.
*Tip - Once you think you have found the answer, quickly refer back to the question to ensure that it is what you are looking for.
5) Be aware of time - Make sure that you are using your time wisely because there are three texts which all have questions following them. Remember that you only have 60 minutes which does not include any time to transfer answers to the answer sheet. For this reason, you should try to write the answer directly on the answer sheet as you go.
*Tip - Try to stay relaxed and calm. If you run into a difficult article, skip it and come back to it later. Also, try not to get bogged down by new vocabulary because it is impossible to know every word.
*Tip - Put yourself in testing conditions when you are doing IELTS reading practice tests but not during every reading exercise that you do.
I hope these tips and pointers will help you achieve your goals. Always try to stay positive and PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Feedback is always welcome and important, so let me know what you think about the IELTS test in general or about what you would like to see in future IELTS related blogs. Follow us on Facebook (IELTS East Coast School of Languages) and stay tuned for the next IELTS related blog!