In IELTS reading section, flow-chart questions may be challenging to tackle due to their presentation, and the need for candidates to understand the order of information. Test takers need to scan for specific words from the text to use as answers which can seem a little tricky to some.
An IELTS reading flow chart is a visual way to describe the order in which the stages of a certain process take place. The flow chart will contain short key phrases and arrows which will help you understand the order of stages being described in the text, and the direction in which the information is going. Some key phrases in the flow-chart will contain gaps which you will need to fill in using words taken from the text. You will need to paraphrase the key words in the short phrases, which will help you locate the information in the text.
You can follow the steps below:
Read the Instructions Carefully
The instructions in this task will tell you how many words you may choose from the text to use as your answer. You may use from 1 word up to the maximum number of words indicated in the instructions. For instance, if the instructions say up to 3 words, you may use 1, 2 or 3 words, but no more than 3.
Read and Understand the Phrases in the Flowchart
Due to the nature of flow-charts and how they are comprised of small phrases and arrows, it is important to make sure you understand what the topic of the flow-chart is, and its key phrases.
Because you are looking for specific information in the text, and answers do not come in order, it is essential that you read the key phrases carefully and understand what they mean. Ask yourself what is the key information you are required to find? For instance, if the phrase says 'drop in amount of oxygen in blood due to ___', you will then need to look for information about a decrease in oxygen in the text. Once you have done that, you may choose which word(s) should fill that gap.
Paraphrase the Phrases
Paraphrasing the questions means saying what they mean in different words, focusing particularly on key words or phrases. For example:
'Drop in amount of oxygen in blood due to _____' In other words: 'Decrease in quantity of oxygen in the blood because of _____'
If you explain the questions in other words, you make sure you understand them better, and you can see more easily where the meaning is expressed in the text.
Understand the Order of Information in the Flow-chart
Using the arrows, make sure you understand the stages being described in the flow-chart. Understanding the stages is key to identifying them in written form in the text, and finding the answers.
Skim the Text
To skim the text means to read it quickly to get the general idea. This is a good way to familiarise yourself with the content, since you will need to find specific information in the text. Especially for a task that requires an understanding of the order of information, reading the text quickly should help you notice certain words that might be helpful when looking for answers in the text. This will also give you a broad idea about the nature of information in each paragraph, thereby helping locate the rest of the information, as well.
Scan the Text for Information
To scan a text means to read it quickly while looking for specific information. You don't need to read or understand every single word, as long as you are able to identify specific information that helps you answer the question, including synonyms to key words you have paraphrased.
You must read the instructions carefully. They will tell you the maximum number of words to use in your answers.
Read all the key phrases in the flow chart before reading the text. Because the answers do not come in order, you want to make sure you know what specific information you are expected to look for in the text before answering the questions. This will help you make the most of your time.
When paraphrasing the key phrases, think of synonyms to key words and/or phrases in the phrases. For example:
'raindrops are absorbed into the soil'
raindrop = rainwater absorbed = soaked up, taken in soil = ground, earth
Now is the time to practise this type of question:
When we exercise, we take in oxygen-rich air, which fuels the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. When exercising muscles, the level of oxygen then plummets, and the blood is enriched with carbon dioxide.
Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage in each gap.
Inhale air with oxygen
Oxygen fills blood from lungs to body
Drop in amount of oxygen in blood due to .
drop = decrease, plummet amount = quantity, number, level due to = because of, as a result of exercising muscles = correct answer
The key information in the text is underlined here:
'When exercising muscles, the level of oxygen then plummets'
We found an important key phrase 'level of oxygen', what with 'level' being a synonym for 'amount', as well as the synonym 'plummets'. We can see that the cause for oxygen to plummet is 'exercising muscles'.