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Tips to ace the reading section of IELTS

Tips to ace the reading section of IELTS


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IELTS reading section consists of three sections with 40 questions. The texts are taken from journals, newspapers, books, magazines, advertisements etc.

The first section contains relevant basic linguistic survival in English with mainly concerned with providing factual information.

The second section focuses on the work context and involves texts of complex language.

The third section involves reading more extended texts with a more complex structure, but with the emphasis on descriptive and instructive rather than argumentative texts.

A variety of question types are asked including multiple choice, matching heading, features, matching information, diagram labelling, summary completion note completion inflation flow chart completion summary completion sentence completion short answer questions.

Following are some tips which one needs to keep in mind:

  1. Take a look at the questions before you go to the passage-It’s always a good idea to quickly glance at the questions before you start reading the passage, since you can alter your reading strategy based on this. Suppose you get a question of matching heading then you need to have a broad understanding of the passage but if the question is asking you to match writer’s claim / information then you need to read the passage in detail. Looking at the questions will give you an idea on how to approach the passage.
  2. Learn to summarize- You need to paraphrase or summarize the passage in your own words. It will be a lot easier for you to understand the text. For this you can prepare a map or underline keywords. Don’t worry about difficult words rather try to understand “why” the author is giving you this information.
  3. Keep a track of time- You get 60 minutes to complete the entire reading section. So, give 20 minutes to each passage. You will not get extra time to transfer your answers, so finish it in 18 minutes and use the remaining 2 minutes to transfer the answer to the answer sheets.
  4. Read the instructions carefully- one needs to read the instructions carefully as instructions might be different from what you may have seen in during your practice.
  5. Focus on the first and last paragraph of each passage- This is very important strategy for reading as the first paragraph introduces the idea of the passage and the last paragraph usually summarizes it. Thus, focusing on these two paragraphs will make it easier for one to capture the overall flow of thoughts in the passage.
  6. Use your cursor/ pencil as your read- If you are giving a computer based exam then keep your cursor on the passage as your read and if your paper based exam then keep your pencil on the line you are reading and underline important points, key words as you read it. It keeps you focused.
  7. Stick to the word limit- Do not write more words than you have been asked to. While answering short answer questions, check the word limit. If you write more than required, then you will lose marks.
  8. Do not use your knowledge in answering the questions- The answers to all the questions are given in the passage. Never make the mistake of answering the questions based on your additional knowledge of the given subject.
  9. Pay attention to spellings- while transferring your answers to the sheet make sure your spellings are correct and write in legible handwriting and copy against the correct question number.
  10. When in doubt, guess- There is no penalty for wrong answers, so even if you don’t know the answer to a particular question, guess. Do not leave any question unanswered.
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