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January 12, 2013 / ielts coach

5 Golden Rules: IELTS Reading

Sam McCarter wrote a book called ‘Tips for IELTS’ in 2006. From it I’ve taken my five favorite golden rules for IELTS reading test:

ONE: Answer the questions quickly and accurately. If you can’t do a question quickly, leave it and come back to it later.

This is common sense but, still, many IELTS candidates stress themselves too much on one question, causing unnecessary delay that would eventually jeopardize their performance in the sub-test. Just remember, you only have 90 seconds for every item. This means reading the question, finding the answer in the text and writing it on the answer sheet.

TWO: As the passages are long, you don’t have to read in detail. Skim and scan them to find information. 

This is easier said than done. For many readers, reading a passage several times is a common practice. And that is because sometimes, they feel the need to understand the text completely. This may not be very helpful in IELTS reading though. In this test, you read the text to find the answer. You don’t read it to understand it completely.

THREE: The level, the tests, and the tasks become progressively more difficult. Therefore, do the earlier questions as quickly as possible, to give yourself more time for difficult questions.

As well as in other sub-tests, there is an increasing level of difficulty in the tasks. So when doing them, it is wiser to start with the easiest. Not only does it increase your chance of getting a high score, it also warms up or tunes up your brain for it to work more effectively and efficiently.

FOUR: The questions generally follow the order of the information in the text. However, the questions in once section can overlap another and they may be jumbled.

By ‘generally’, this means ‘not all’ but ‘most’. Now that you know it, you should probably start thinking like this: Once you’ve used the first three paragraphs in finding the answers to questions one to three, the answer to question number four could only be in paragraph four or five- not in paragraph one or two.

FIVE: The questions are usually paraphrases of the text so look for the meaning in the text, not the exact words.

IELTS reading test also measures the range of your vocabulary grammar. Knowledge in paraphrases, synonyms, and word formation in very useful in the reading test. You can’t expect to see the questions stated verbatim in the text. So think of the meaning when finding that part of the text where you base your answer, not the same form.

You see, they are not necessarily rules but I consider them as top tips. Hundreds of students I have worked with in the past 11 years agree with them.

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