How to master the IELTS Reading Academic Test?
Try to pay attention to the following points:
- Time is the biggest issue that candidates usually face – it can seem very difficult to read the passages and find the answers to forty questions in sixty minutes. However, it’s important to be aware that you don’t actually need to read, or understand, every word of each passage. Instead, you need to understand what the question is asking you to do, and then identify the part of the passage where you will find the answer.
- When you read the task you need to identify the key words in each question or statement. These are the most important words which express the main ideas. For example, in a passage about employing young people, if the statement is ‘they do not stay with the same company for very long’ the key words are ‘not stay’, ‘same company’ and ‘very long’. Doing this will help you to find the part of the passage you need. Another important point is that the language in the questions is not the same as the language in the passage. Therefore you will need to paraphrase the questions in your head, in other words think of different ways of saying the same thing. You can do this by thinking of synonyms, or words with similar meanings. In our example, ‘not stay.....same company’ could be ‘change jobs’.
- A common mistake that candidates make is to spend too much time looking for the answer to a single question, especially if it’s difficult. Instead of trying (and maybe failing) to find the answer to a difficult question, you could be answering two or three easier questions. Every question is worth one mark, so they are all equally important. If you can’t find the answer to a question, don’t waste any more time – just move on to the next one. You can always come back to it later, or you can guess. On average you have about 1.2 minutes to answer each question.
- In pen and paper based test, you will need to transfer your answers to the answer sheet during the sixty minutes (unlike a computer-delivered test, where you can make full use of the one-hour period in answering the test). It is essential that you do this – the worst thing that can happen is that you have an empty answer sheet at the end, even though you might have found the correct answers! You can either transfer your answers after you finish each passage, or transfer them all together at the end – but if you do this, allow yourself enough time. Don’t wait until you have only a few minutes left, because if you copy your answers in a hurry, you are much more likely to make mistakes. You will lose marks for spelling mistakes, or for writing the right answer in the wrong place. One other thing is that you should never leave an answer blank – if you couldn’t find the answer or you didn’t have time, just guess. Leaving it blank means you’re sure to get nothing, but if you guess you might be lucky!
What can I do to improve my reading skills?
- You can prepare for your IELTS academic reading test by reading English texts such as newspapers, books or journals regularly. This will help you improve your vocabulary as well as your grammar. You can start practising by reading IELTS academic reading materials and then with time, also create a habit of reading English newspapers, magazines, journals on a day-to-day basis. You can further prepare yourself by learning about the type of questions that could be posed in the test.