How to improve IELTS Reading – Helpful Tips and Tricks for IELTS Reading Test

Helpful Tips and Tricks for IELTS Reading
  • IELTS READING 
  • Test format – Reading  
  • 60 minutes 
     
    IELTS Academic test : This includes three long texts and the texts may be written in distinctive styles, for example, narrative, descriptive, or discursive/argumentative. These are taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration. 
     

IELTS Academic Reading description  :

Paper format  Three reading passages with a variety of questions 
Timing  60 minutes (1 Hour) 
No. of questions  40 
Task types  A variety of question types are given such as identifying information, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information, multiple-choice, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings and short-answer questions. 
Sources  Texts are taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers and written for a non-specialist audience. Texts may contain non-verbal materials such as diagrams, graphs, or illustrations. If texts contain technical terms a simple glossary is provided. 
Answering  Though students can mark and write on the Question Paper, they must transfer their answers on the Reading Answer Sheet side by side, as no extra time is given for transferring your answers from the test booklet to the Reading Answer Sheet.  
   
Marks  Each question is worth 1 mark. 

 IELTS General Training test – this includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks, and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter daily in an English-speaking environment. 

IELTS General Training Reading description 

Paper format  There are three sections. Section 1 may contain two or three short texts or several shorter texts. Section 2 comprises two texts. In Section 3, there is one long text.
Timing 60 minutes 
No. of questions  40
Task types A variety of question types are given such as identifying information, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, identifying the writer’s views/claims, matching information, multiple-choice, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings and short-answer questions. 
Sources In Section 1, the texts are related to deal with everyday topics, and they are the sort of texts which are to be understood by a person when living in an English-speaking country. Students will need to pick out valuable information, e.g., from notices, advertisements, and timetables. The texts in Section 2 focus on work topics, for example, job descriptions, contracts, staff development and training materials. This Section 3 text is longer and more complex than the texts in Sections 1 and 2. Section 3 texts are taken from newspapers, magazines, books, and online resources. 
Answering Though students can mark and write on the Question Paper, they must transfer their answers on the Reading Answer Sheet side by side, as no extra time is given for transferring your answers from the test booklet to the Reading Answer Sheet.  
Marks  Each question is worth 1 mark. 

 Question types 

The types of questions are

  • Short-answer questions 
  • Sentence completion 
  • Multiple Choice 
  • Yes, no, not given or True, false, not given 
  • Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion 
  • Matching lists/Classification 
  • Diagram labeling
  • Matching headings for paragraphs/sections of a text 
  • Identifying information 

 There are 40 questions in total. Each of the three sections has around 13-14 questions and there are around two or three types of questions in each section

The Question Types 

  1. Short answer questions 

 In this question type, students are required to answers the questions, which usually relate to the information given in the text. 

To answer these questions,  

Read the instructions carefully– as instructions will tell you how many words or numbers, you can write for your answers. For example– write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS or ONE WORD ONLY, if students write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. 

NOTE– hyphenated words are always counted as single words. 

Tips :

  • Read the questions carefully. 
  • underline the keywords
  • Find the requirement of the questions so you can decide what information you need to find in the text. 
  • lookout for question words like ‘where’ and ‘who’ which indicate you should read for specific things like places and people. 
  • Go back to the first question and decide what part of the text you need to read
  • To find the keywords in the text, skim it, find your highlighted words, and scan the part carefully to find the answer. 
  • You may use your own words. But it must be grammatically correct.

      2. Sentence completion questions 

In this question type, you need to complete the end of a sentence. 

There are two types of sentence completion questions in the reading exam. The questions come in the same order as the information is given in the text. 

Type 1. With a selection of answers. In this type a list of the end will be given, so students are required to choose their answers from that list. 

Type 2. Without a choice of answers. In this case, students may directly choose their answers from the text. 

In the Type 2 questions, instructions will always be given regarding the number of words you can write for your answer. So, you can answer with ONE WORD, TWO WORDS, or THREE WORDS but not more than the given instructions. They will also tell you to use words from the reading passage

Tips :

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Quickly read all the sentence halves and underline the keywords simultaneously. 
  • Always find the requirement of your question, it will help you to understand what information you need
  • Skim the passage and locate or find the highlighted keywords given in the questions.
  • Make sure the answer does not exceed the stated word limit articles and unneeded adjectives can sometimes be left out to achieve this. 
  • Be aware that the statement will not use the same words as the text. Be aware of paraphrasing and synonyms. 
  • Make sure the answer fits into the statement grammatically. 
  1. Multiple Choice Questions

There are three types of multiple-choice questions in the IELTS reading exam. 

Type 1. Where there is one answer

Type 2. Where there are multiple answers and one mark for each.  

Type 3. Where there are multiple answers for only one mark

Tips :

  • Look through the questions first.
  • Underline keywords from the question.
  • Do not read the given options first.
  • Skim the text for those keywords that you have underlined 
  • Scan the text as the answer should be found close to those(highlighted) words 
  • These answers are mostly given in order. 
  1. Yes, no, not given or True, false, not given

 Students will be given a few statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?’ They are then required to write ‘True,’ ‘False’ or ‘Not Given’ in the boxes on their answer sheets. 

If it says ‘Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?’ students are required to write ‘Yes,’ ‘No’ or ‘Not Given’ in the boxes on their answer sheet.

In short, follow the instructions whether you are supposed to write YES/NO/NOT GIVEN or TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN.

It is important to understand the difference between ‘No‘ and ‘Not Given‘. ‘No‘ means that the views or claims of the writer explicitly disagree with the statement, i.e., the writer somewhere expresses the view or makes a claim which is opposite to the one given in the question; ‘Not Given’ means that the view or claim is neither confirmed nor contradicted. 

It is important to understand the difference between ‘False‘ and ‘Not Given‘. ‘False‘ means that the passage states the opposite of the statement in question; ‘Not Given’ means that the statement is neither confirmed nor contradicted by the information in the passage. 

The questions will be in the same order as the text

Tips :

  • Read the question carefully to make sure you fully understand what it is saying and underline the keywords.
  • Scan the text to find where the keywords from the question are given. 
  • Once you find the keywords, read the text carefully to identify if you think it is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN. 
  • The questions will probably use synonyms rather than the same words in the text. 
  • Look out for controlling words such as “only,” “all,’ “never” etc. For example, if the fact in the question says ‘some’ and the fact in the text says ‘all’, then it is FALSE
  • Do not spend a long time looking for the answer to one question; it is probably NOT GIVEN if you cannot find it. 
  • Make sure you use the correct code; ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘No Information‘ is sometimes used (these questions are slightly different and you look for opinions rather than facts). 
     

TIP 2-

  • Read the question carefully and underline the keywords.
  • Divide each question statement into three or four parts according to keywords.
  • skim your text and locate the synonyms or similar words.
  • scan carefully and try to match each part of the question with the text.
  • if you get all the parts of the question in the same sense. the answer will be TRUE/, YES
  • if one part of the question opposes or contradicts the text, the answer will be FALSE/NO
  • If one part is missing or there is no information about any of the main keywords. your answer will be NOT GIVEN.
  1. Notes/table/form/summary/flow chart/diagram completion

These questions ask for specific information.  

There are two types of these questions in the IELTS reading. 

These questions always have gap fills and students are sometimes asked either to select words from the text or to select from a list of answers. There will be more words than the gaps. 

These questions have different requirements as following 

  • write words or phrases that are not in sentences  
  • insert a word in the middle and another word at the end of a sentence 
  • insert a word or phrase in the middle of a sentence 
  • write a letter that represents a word or phrase 

   In other types where words are to be selected from the text instructions will make it clear to write your answers in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS. So, you can answer with one word, two words, or three words but no more. 

Tips: 

  • Read the instructions carefully.

If the summary is given, read it carefully to understand it. 

  • Find what section of the passage the exercise covers. 
  • read the question carefully and think about the words that will suit best such as grammatical form noun, verb, adverb, etc. as well as vocabulary.  
  • if a list of answers is given, try to choose the words which have the right type and meaning to fit. 
  • in the table completion questions, find which way is best to read it– horizontally or vertically
  • look for any headings or subheadings these will help you to locate your answers easily. 
  • Fill the gap one by one and search the text for the best word(s) to fill the gap. 

Note: – always focus on the words that are given before and after the gap as these will help you to fill your gap correctly, especially when you need to choose an answer from the text (no list of words is given) 

  1. Matching/classification

 These questions require you to match a list of opinions to sources given in the text. You have some statements from your text, and a list of options (listed as A, B, C etc.). Your task is to match each statement with the correct option. 

There could be more opinions/statements than sources. If so, you will need to write more than one letter beside the question in the answer booklet. If there are more sources than opinions, one of the opinions will be used more than once. 

 Tips: 

  • Read the instructions carefully. 
  • Take the names of the sources one by one and find them in the text and underline them. 
  • When you have located a nameread carefully to see what is said about his/her opinions. 
  • Look at the list of opinions/sources and see if you can find a match
  • Be careful the text will not use the same words given in the questions, so look for synonyms and similar words. 
  • Also, be aware that the sources may be referred to in more than one place in the text. 
  • The opinions in the task are not listed in the same order as they appear in the text
  • Phrases like ‘he said’ or ‘in his opinion’ should help you locate the arguments. 
  • Do not leave any questions unanswered. 
  1. List of Headings

 There are two types of headings questions.  

Type 1. Choosing headings for paragraphs or sections of a text.  

Type 2. Choosing a heading/title for the whole text

  Type 1- In this type of question, you are given a text that contains from 4 to 8 paragraphs and a list of headings. You are asked to match the paragraphs with the correct headings. Usually, there can be 2/3 extra headings.  

Type 2 – you are required to sum up the whole text. There will be 3 or 4 options to choose your answer from. 

Tips:

  • Read the instructions carefully. 
  • Make sure you know which paragraphs or sections you must read, sometimes examples are given. 
  • Read the first paragraph or section and try to get it general idea or gist. (What it is about.) 
  • Then go to a list of headings and try to match for the best answer. Even you can eliminate the options. 
  • Make sure the heading you have chosen relates to the entire paragraph and not just one idea within it. 
  • Read the whole text before looking at the bank of headings. Try to think of your own heading and then look at the options.  
  1. Labeling a diagram that has numbered parts

 You will be given a diagram and will be asked to label it with words from the text or labels given. 

Tips :

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Look at the diagram and the labels if they are given. 
  • See if you can guess any of the answers
  • The information will be given in the same order as the numbers on the diagram. 
  • Scan the text to find the information.  
  • If labels are not provided, make sure you use words from the text. And fulfill the requirement of the question. 
  1. Identifying information/matching paragraphs

These questions require you to scan the text to find the location of the information. You will be given a set of statements and you need to find the paragraph containing the same information. 

 There will always be more paragraphs than statements. 

Tips :

  • Read the instructions carefully. 
  • Quickly read the statements to get an idea of what the text is about
  • Take the statements one by one. Underline the keywords. 
  • Be careful, these questions are not in order. 
  • Skim the text and find where the information is mentioned. 
  • Remember to look for synonyms and parallel expressions because it is likely that the statements express the ideas differently to the way they are expressed in the text. 

Basic Tips to follow in each question type: 

  • Read the instructions very carefully. 
  • Find the requirement of questions. 
  • Read the questions and highlight the keywords. 
  • Skim the text and underline the keywords found in the questions. 
  • When you find the keywords, scan the text carefully to answer your question accurately. 
  • Be aware of spellings. 

General Tips – Reading 

  • Read more 
  • Become familiar with long texts to improve your speed of reading. 

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