Expert Speak on IELTS Basics

5 Top Tips for Scoring High on the IELTS Reading Section

1. Use Time to Your Advantage

We advise you to do is to fill in the answer sheet as you go, not at the end.

Leave difficult questions for the end.  Don’t start reading the text before looking at the tasks. Read the tasks and questions first, before you read, and think about the information you need to find to answer those questions while you’re reading.

Practice doing lots of reading tests. This way you’ll know how to best divide your time and won’t stress too much about working against the clock.

2. Read the Task Carefully

Whenever you start doing a task, make sure you read the instructions and the examples carefully.  Here is what you should pay attention to in three of the most common task types:  True/false/not given: If you select ‘true,’ then the whole sentence must be true. There are a few tricky questions in which not all of the details are true. Some may be true while others are false. In these cases, the answer will be ‘false.’

Matching tasks: Don’t cross out the options you’ve already used. This may seem like a fast way of doing the task but it can lead to mistakes. Instead, reconsider all the options for each question.

Gap filling tasks: Make sure you don’t go over the word limit for each gap.

3. Get Better at Scanning

Scanning is a reading method that allows you to find information faster. When scanning, you no longer read everything word for word. You just move your eyes across the text smoothly in a wavelike motion. You don’t stop to read details and you don’t waste time with unnecessary information.  Each paragraph has a main idea and that idea is expressed in the topic sentence. You don’t have time to read all the details because most of them aren’t needed to answer the questions correctly.

So, where do you find the topic sentence?  Usually, it’s the first sentence of a paragraph, but it can also appear at the end.

Scanning can also help you find key words and numbers fast. While numbers are usually easy to locate, with key words you have to use your memory to find the approximate location where you read that earlier and then look for the word being discussed in more detail.

4. Be Cool with Vocabulary

Don’t panic if you come across unknown words.  Even native speakers don’t understand every single word in every text they read and that’s okay because all those words don’t matter most of the time.

Remember that this isn’t a vocabulary test!  When you’re practicing reading anything or taking a IELTS practice test, do not use a dictionary. Make yourself complete all your reading practice first. Then, once you have completed the activity, you can return to the text and look something up afterward.

5. Improve Your Reading Speed

There’s only one way to do this and there’s no hiding from it: the more you read, the better and faster you get at reading.  You’re most likely going to discover that you understand everything you read much better!

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