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Top 15 Reading Tips by an Expert IELTS Mentor

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25 Aug 2018

Reading module is a challenging module in IELTS for many. When the Academic reading passages are lengthy and based on scientific topics involving complex vocabulary, General Training reading passages are simple to understand but questions are quite confusing. In order to get high band score in IELTS Reading section and to help you overcoming the hurdles you face while attempting reading passages, below are some of the reading tips given by an expert IELTS mentor. Let us learn the important and useful tips on reading module:

1. Keep on Reading to Improve Grasping Power
If you have the habit of reading a number of books or online materials, it will definitely help you a lot in the reading test. If you don’t, you can develop this habit by reading textbooks, magazines, newspapers and articles online. This will help you in grasping the written content in less time and also, you will improve your concentration. For half an hour or so, try reading text on a daily basis as part of your exam preparation.


2. Prepare a Reading Strategy
For your success in exam, it is extremely important that you prepare a reading strategy and implement the same in the exam effectively.  There can be a number of reading strategies from which you can adopt the one which works best for you. For example, if you think solving the 3rd section first helps you gain confidence, instead of doing it at last, use this strategy as per your comfort level.


3. Practice Mock Tests
Solve a number of mock tests from Cambridge IELTS books, IELTS websites or other materials shared by your training institute. Always remember that practice is the key to your success in the exam. It can’t be the case at all that you hardly do practice of 1 or 2 reading passages and you can get high band score.

After solving every practice test, you come to know your weak points and silly mistakes. The more you are aware of your mistakes before exam, the better it is for you since you can then avoid them during the exam.


4. Manage Time Effectively
Plan how you are going to divide your time effectively for completing the 3 sections. Prepare a time based reading strategy and practice accordingly. Let’s say, you have 1 hour for your reading test which you can divide as 20 mins each for every section. Keep in mind that time is crucial for success in reading, so do solve the questions with focused mind so that you can complete them all within the time. Also, keep an eye on timer to stay updated how much time you are left with.


5. Stay Concentrated and Focused While Completing a Passage
Concentration is the most important skill that will lead you towards your target band score. Devote time at home for building up your concentration level by reading texts and practicing strictly keeping the timer with you to get the feel of exam. The more focused you are while you read the passages and solve the questions, the more quickly and accurately you are able to solve your answers.


6. Skim the Passage Properly
Skimming is the first major part of the reading test. It is nothing but reading the passage effectively. At the time you read a passage, just try to understand the main ideas of every paragraph you read. Getting a general idea or an overview of each paragraph is what we call meaningful read. One essential tip to skim a paragraph is to keep in mind the first and last line of that paragraph.


7. Underline Keywords
Practically, what is going to help in the reading test is when you underline important keywords in the passage and the questions as well. It is another way of gaining focus using abstract reading that makes you getting closer to find the answer. Some facts, figures, capitalized words etc. are some of the common words that we underline. Also, underline keywords when you read a question and try to find those keywords in the passage to identify the right paragraph that you will refer for finding your answer.


8. Follow the Scanning Process Carefully
After skimming the passage, scanning is the next major element of reading test and this is area that makes the difference when you find out answers correctly. You follow a particular process for scanning; firstly, use keywords from question to locate the right paragraph, read that paragraph to locate the right statement that refers to that question and then read the located statement to find the rights words (keeping in mind the word instruction) as you answer.


9. Always Find Answers in Order
A very basic thing that most of the students are simply unaware about is that your answers follow the same order in the passage as the order of your questions. So, if you have found answer to 3rd question in 2nd paragraph, you would not get answer to 4th question in 1st paragraph, for sure. In almost all the questions, you will find regularity like this, which can be an advantage for you for finding your answers.


10. Understand Paraphrasing and Vocabulary (Guess the Meaning)
Your questions in the reading test are paraphrased which means that different words or synonyms are used in the question. So, not every time you will find the words match with words in the passage. You may have to understand the question and then try to locate the right paragraph by understanding the synonyms. In this case, if you are not aware of the exact meaning of a particular word, even then you can solve the question, merely by understanding the complete statement and guessing the meaning of that complex word.


11. Pay Attention to the Focus of Question
In the question, there is one or the other word that you can consider as the focus of that question. This word will help you find the right answer. You just need to identify this kind of word in the question.

Let’s take an example for this,
Q. What is the major reason why the author did not revert back to his friend?

a. He did not want to continue friendship

b. He found social networking boring

c. He thought it was worthless to speak to him

d. He did not intend to have any negativity again.
Now, here is your paragraph:

Though I am not very fond of Facebook but last night, I just signed into my account and saw that my friend had sent me message on Facebook whether I would like to be in the party or not. After a very long time, I could hear from him for a get together. Last time, we met with each other; there was a huge argument after which I couldn’t get in touch with him. Though I wanted to meet him as well but as I was out of town and did not want to say no to him, I kept mum for a while and replied him after I came back to my place and then we had a grand party together.  

The focus in the above question is “major reason”. Though all the reasons are somehow applicable but the major point is the last option as per the underlined statement in the above paragraph.


12. Guess your Answer Grammatically as Well
By looking at the question itself, you can come to know whether the answer would be a noun, adjective, verb, number or a word etc. This will help you a lot in identifying the right answers as grammar plays a very significant role for the same. Also, you can find out whether your answer is to be a singular word or plural word, which is what many of the times found that students are not transferring the answers correctly missing out writing “s” for a plural word.


13. Keep the Instruction in Mind
Word instruction is as important as finding the answer. Let us suppose that your instruction is ONE WORD ONLY but if you have mistakenly written two words as your answer, it would be marked wrong then. So, be careful about the given instruction. It is better to underline the instructions too like keywords.


14. Transfer Answers Carefully
Your answers, in almost all the cases, are to be the same words that you choose from the passage though sometimes you have to change the answer grammatically (for example, changing form of verb). Do not manipulate the answer in any way or do not even write synonym in its place. When you write the exact answer, then only you get the right mark. Also, prefer transferring answers simultaneously or after you complete one section, rather than doing it at the end.


15. Attempt all the Questions
Since there is no negative marking for a wrong answer, it is highly recommended that you should not leave any answer as blank. If you don’t know the answer, guess it rather than leaving blank completely. Who knows what you are guessing comes out to be the right answer. In case of guessed answer, you can mark that question so that you can review it later also if you get time at the end.

If you get confused on a particular question due to nervousness or since you are running out of time, first try to handle it patiently. If it does not work, do not spend too much time solving that single question only. Just guess it and keep on continuing with the rest of the passage.

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