IELTS Reading: how to increase your scores?

60 minutes are allocated to work with the Reading stage on the IELTS Academic exam. It has 40 questions, each of which can bring 1 point. The assignments are varied and designed to test the level of your reading skills. The section includes 3 long texts consisting of a total of 2750 words maximum. Excerpts are borrowed from various newspapers, books, magazines and are not adapted in any way. Sometimes they contain non-verbal materials: graphs, diagrams, tables, etc. In case there are some technical terms in the text, it is supplemented by a glossary. First, you read the text and then answer questions related to it. First of all, you need to understand:

  1. the main ideas of the passage;
  2. the logical arguments given in it;
  3. the opinion of the author and the purpose of writing the text, hidden between the lines.

You need to have time to enter in the proposed form all the answers strictly for the allotted time, there are no indulgences here. In the test there are tasks of the following types:

  • Fill in the gaps in the passage or table.
  • Find titles for charts, diagrams, or texts.
  • Finish the sentence.
  • Give monosyllabic or short answers.
  • Give quick answers.
  • Multiple-choice questions.
  • Information mapping.
  • Populate flowcharts/diagrams/shortcuts.

How to Improve Reading Skills for the IELTS Reading Test

As mentioned above, the passages encountered in the exam are taken from English-language newspapers, books and magazines. Therefore, you need to learn how to read such materials. If you have not met them before, then as a first step in preparing for the exam, take up the study of famous English newspapers, magazines, books, etc. There are 2 excellent sources: National Geographic magazines and The Economist. In addition, you should download and train on study materials that simulate exam tasks and answers. Regular practice in reading passages will help you comprehend the general idea. A good understanding of the texts will allow you to quickly, efficiently and accurately give answers to the questions of a real test. The texts of the authors are divided into 4 main types:

  1. analytical (discussing the cause of an incident);
  2. descriptive (outlining the situation and explaining how everything happened);
  3. debatable (with the presentation of several opinions and the need to independently draw conclusions, assessing the reasons);
  4. narrative (sequentially telling about several events).

With all this in mind, your first step should be to download the Reading learning materials from the public or get them from your teacher, and follow the instructions. Train tirelessly and don’t forget about time. It is noticed that candidates often do not meet the deadline, working on the third part of the test. Therefore, during training, it is very important to strictly observe time limits. In order to achieve an ambitious goal (at least 7 points), it is worth training regularly for one to two months before registering for the test.

Superficial reading. You need to develop the ability to study the text superficially. By “superficially” is meant a quick view with ignoring complex secondary words. The goal is to understand the main idea, allowing you to give answers to simple questions.

Scan. You have to improve your ability to scan an excerpt. In the process, you need to look carefully for answers, such as dates, numbers, words beginning with capital letters, etc.

Parse the structure of the paragraph. This is extremely important. Understanding the structure of the paragraph will allow you to grasp the main idea of the text. It can be formulated at the beginning or at the end of the passage. The answers to the questions largely depend on how accurately you have understood the main idea.

Formation of a common view. It is critically important to get an idea of the text to which you have to answer. And this must be done even before moving on to the task. You can give quick and accurate answers by reading the title and subheadings, as well as focusing on the beginning and end of the text.

Getting rid of panic. In the process of passing the exam, you may encounter unfamiliar complex expressions – no need to panic. Skip them, most likely, they will not be required to understand the text. Learn to guess the meaning of unknown words by the way they are used in a passage and in sentences. Practice actively, remembering that they may still have to be taken into account. Ask for help from experienced teachers. Classes with a teacher or in a group are almost an indispensable condition for obtaining a high mark.

Time allocation. Learn to manage time and keep a close eye on it. As already mentioned, during the Reading phase of the IELTS test, the mass of students does not fit into the restrictions. Why? They just don’t pay attention to them when preparing. Therefore, from the very first lessons, you need to carefully distribute time, trying to deal with each part of the section in no more than 20 minutes. The loss of precious seconds in the third stage can result in serious losses. If you spent more than 40 minutes on the first two passages, then on the third you will naturally have even less time. However, it takes more than 20 minutes to work with it, and there is no additional time here. A large number of candidates finish the Reading stage with disappointment due to the lack of time management skills. Therefore, you need to work on this direction.

Improve reading speed. Boost reading speeds on surface viewing or scanning, because saving time is important. The faster you read, the more minutes you have left to search for answers to questions. However, be careful not to miss the essential details in your haste! Do not get stuck on unfamiliar complex words: if you stop, you will lose time. When reading superficially or scanning, look for answers, but do it quickly. A good trick: keep your finger under the line that you are reading – then, despite the haste, you will not lose a single phrase. And remember that the eyes move faster than the hands, so try to synchronize them forcibly. The more you read during class, the higher your speed becomes. Try to snatch 3 words at a time, because in most cases our brain remembers phrases, not individual words.

How to get the most out of the IELTS Reading stage

When preparing for the test, achieve a realistic situation. Be guided by the following recommendations during preparation:

  • Look for the title of the text, subheadings, words beginning with capital letters, underlined and italicized phrases, numbers, graphs, tables.
  • Before giving an answer, understand the question and follow all the instructions very carefully.
  • Time is an extremely serious factor, so do not waste it mindlessly trying to understand a passage or question.
  • Don’t read every word. Strive to solve the tasks described above – first read superficially, and then just scan the text.
  • Do not waste time on the task if you do not know the answer. Instead, move on to the next one faster.
  • All the answers are in the passage. So don’t panic if you don’t know something.
  • Important: use only those words that are mentioned in the text. You can’t even change their shape.
  • When you encounter an unfamiliar word, do not be alarmed, perhaps you will not need it.
  • Check your spelling carefully.
  • Be extremely careful about the use of singular and plural.
  • When faced with questions to complete the sentence, do exactly what you are asked to do.
  • If the task needs to fill in a space like “in the ____”, and the correct answer is the word “morning”, so write, you do not need to enter “in the morning”.
  • Do not leave questions unanswered, there are no penalties for mistakes here, so you will not lose anything in any case.
  • At the end, don’t forget to check and adjust your answers.
  • When writing down answers, use a pencil so that errors can be erased and corrected.

So, to summarize: you need to increase the speed of surface reading and scanning of text. To raise the mark, during the preparation you will have to keep in mind a lot of factors. Do not read the passages in their entirety, just look through them in search of important information and the main idea. If you learn this, you can save a lot of precious minutes. Do not forget: every second counts. Here are some more significant recommendations:

  • Try to cope with each of the first two parts in less than 20 minutes. The fact is that the third piece of the section is the most difficult, and it will definitely take more time. Ideally, you should divide the allotted 60 minutes in this way: 15 – 18 – 27.
  • Important: be sure to transfer the answers to the form. Entries on the sheet with questions are not taken into account.
  • If you can’t find the answer to a specific question, mark it (??) so that you can quickly find the pass and try again.
  • If you are asked to answer “in three words”, then in your statement there should be exactly 3 words – no more and no less.

During the test, you will have to read 900 words (or a little more). Answering 40 questions after reading 900 words, and even in a foreign language, and at the same time keeping within 60 minutes, may seem to you an impossible task. But don’t worry. There are a lot of techniques and techniques, there are fail-safe ways to perform tasks with perfect accuracy. Thousands of students score 7+ points every year, so why can’t you? Regular training with a strictly set time frame and a series of practice tests under the guidance of an experienced teacher will not only increase your self-confidence, but also lead you to the cherished goal of getting at least 7 points. And with a little more effort and achieving jewelry accuracy, you will be able to conquer Band 8 or even Band 9.

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