Some short tips to do the IELTS reading effectively
The IELTS reading is notoriously difficult. I was a bit perturbed when I read some advice on one of these forums that to get a good score in the Reading you should make sure you read everything before attempting the questions. This is NOT what we advocate, even though some English First Language speakers may be able to do it. I suggest you follow this advice:
1. SKIM the text, i.e. look for the GIST (main idea) of the text by scrutinising the heading (and any pictures and their captions), as well as the FIRST SENTENCE of every paragraph, since this is often the TOPIC SENTENCE, which tells you what's in the paragraph. Now you have LOCATED INFORMATION. This step should only take about 5 minutes.
2. Look at the questions carefully and UNDERLINE key words. You may be surprised how many you can already answer from your 5 minutes' skimming! PREDICT what kind of answer you need: is it a noun, verb or adjective? Is it a number, distance, amount, person or place name?
3. Now SCAN the text for the answers. Proper nouns, dollar/pound signs are in capitals, and surprisingly easy to pick out.
Remember that TIME IS YOUR ENEMY. Unless you are reading purely for pleasure, this is a reading skill we develop in real life, whether looking for interesting stuff in the newspaper or referring to university textbooks.
Some other tips. In the True/False/Not Given (Yes/No/Does Not Say) section, do NOT use your own knowledge or logic. Since it's a reading exercise, they are only interested in what is in the text. Also, look out for "strong" words like "all, every, no, none, always, never": they are never true, since there are always exceptions.
Never leave a question unanswered, especially in the multiple choice. They do not subtract marks for wrong answers.
Read the instructions very carefully, e.g. Write no more than two words and/or a number. Don't exceed it!
Finally, make sure you've answered 40 questions. Sometimes the last 2 or 3 questions are on the back page.
I wish you the best of luck.
By Oyunaa Gombojav - an IELTS Teacher in Australia