It is not an exaggeration to say that the IELTS academic reading section is the most difficult of the lot. It consists of three passages and 40 questions that need to be answered in 60 minutes. The three passages are of varying lengths. Usually, the first passage is the shortest and the easiest, the second passage is lengthier and more difficult and the third passage is the lengthiest and the most difficult.
Tip 1: Time management
The most important tip that I can give you is to manage your time well. First, pick the shortest passage and try and solve it within 15 minutes. Then tackle the medium passage in no more than 20 minutes. Finally, turn your attention to the longest passage ensuring 25 minutes.
Managing time is not easy if your approach is skewed. I have always been of the opinion that not much time should be devoted to reading the actual passages! A skim through should be sufficient. Find out the central theme of the passage and move quickly to the questions. Your energy and time should be spent in reading and understanding the questions first, and then scanning through the passages for the answers. Students typically spend more time reading the passages and are left with precious little for the questions. The passages are running away anywhere. Think about it, if you have not understood the questions completely you will not be able to find the right answers!
Tip 2: Do not get stuck
If you are not able to locate the answer – move on. Getting stuck with a question is a common mistake. Our brain plays this little trick with us. It tells us that if we have not answered a question we cannot move onto the next one. IELTS is a pen and paper test and hence you enjoy the freedom of moving onto the next question without answering the previous one. You can always go back to a difficult question later with fresh eyes if there is time. Remember getting stuck means losing precious minutes.
Tip 3: Review all the choices first
Before you select an answer go through all the available choices first. This is an English test, not a maths test so there is no perfect answer, just the best available choice. Go through all the answers; eliminate them one by one and you will be automatically left with the right choice. Even if you are dead sure that the right choice is (a) make sure that you have still gone through all the alternatives to double check. You never know there might be a better answer available.
Tip 4: Remember to use logic and reasoning
IELTS reading is not only about your language skills. It is about logic and reasoning abilities as well. Question types like ‘Yes, No, Not Given’ require you to apply logic. I have come across many students whose language skills were not the best but they managed to perform well on the reading section because of their ability to use logic.
Tip 5: Watch your spelling and grammar
Spelling mistakes are a fast way to lose marks. Your answer may be right but an incorrect spelling forfeits the mark. Copy the text and spelling carefully from the passage to ensure accuracy. Grammar also matters so you need to be very careful with tenses, prepositions, singulars and plurals. For instance, if an answer demands a plural form and you write the word in the singular form it will be marked incorrectly.
Finally: Bonus tip: Remember to read, read and read some more beforehand
The more you read the better you become at the game. Any type of reading helps. Read books, newspapers, magazines or whatever you can lay your hands on. The more you read the better you become at comprehending, your vocabulary improves and you get quicker. Reading also has a positive effect on your writing skills. A widely read person is an aware person and therefore full of ideas.
At Rosemounts we prime you for success. Our IELTS classes are not about teaching English. They revolve around the essentials for passing IETLS. We take the clutter away and help you focus on the techniques required to ace your exam.
So if you are thinking about taking your IELTS get in touch with us today to find out more about our courses. We look forward to hearing from you.
Best of luck with your exams.