Academic IELTS Reading Test TIPS

Score Desired IELTS Band
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  • Things you should know about the Academic IELTS reading test:

» You must identify the requirement to answer the questions. Find the information as quickly as possible and answer accurately.

Score Desired IELTS Band
Score Desired IELTS Band
Score Desired IELTS Band
Score Desired IELTS Band

» You will not have time to read every word of every passage. So don’t try to read the full passage slowly or read the whole passage line by line.

» The first thing to do is to quickly skim through the passage to find out what it is about in a very general sense.

» You must understand the whole passage within 7-8 minutes and then look for the questions. This will help you to understand what to look for and where to look for.

 » Do not spend too long on one passage or questions of one reading passage. Be specific about the timing. If you can’t answer a particular question, leave it and go to the next question and later come back to the unanswered questions.
»  IELTS reading passages do not test your technical or subject specific skills. It tests your reading skill. So if you find a reading passage on a very technical or subject specific topic, do not worry. Even if a reading passage comes from a technical subject like robotics, genetics, physics, economics or so on, keep in mind that has been designed for non-technical readers.
» There is no negative marking in IELTS exam so answer all of the questions. Sometimes wise-guessing or elimination process would help you answer a question correctly. But do not go for the guessing or elimination process until you reach at the last moment of the exam.
  •  Things you should remember about the Academic IELTS reading module:

» Remember that you are reading for a purpose, not for pleasure. Don’t panic if there are words you do not understand. You may not need to know this word(s) to answer the questions provided.

» Always look at the passage title and headings when you survey the text, as well as special print like- CAPITAL, Bold, italic, “quotation”, underlined words. Sometimes these special marking texts contain important information that would be helpful directly or indirectly for answering questions.

» Remember, there is no penalty for an incorrect answer in IELTS. If you are not certain about an answer to a question, try to omit the wrong answers first and then make a wise decision to answer the question.

» Check that you have understood exactly what the question wants and that you have followed the instructions carefully.

» Some questions expect the opposite answers and you should always be careful while answering these types of questions. For instance, the reading passage might contain information regarding the steps taken to improve employee performance while the question would ask for the step which is not taken by the organisation to improve employee performance.

»Follow the instruction very carefully. Failing to conform to the instructions would make your answer incorrect. For example, if a question asks you to write “True” if the statement is true and you write ‘Yes’, your answer would be treated as a wrong answer.

Now you know the basic of Academic IELTS reading and should be ready to start more comprehensive preparation lesson step by step.

Step 1 :
Survey the whole passage:

Look at:
The title of the passage.
Section headings.
Special prints (CAPITAL, Bold, italic , “quotation”, underlined words.)
Any diagram/table/picture/table  etc.

Sample Reading Passage …..
From a number of recent studies, it has become clear that blind people can appreciate the use of outlines and perspectives to describe the arrangement of objects and other surfaces in space. But pictures are more than literal representations. This fact was drawn to my attention dramatically when a blind woman in one of my investigations decided on her own initiative to draw a wheel as it was spinning. To show this motion, she traced a curve inside the circle (Fig. 1). I was taken aback. Lines of motion, such as the one she used, are a very recent invention in the history of illustration. Indeed, as art scholar David Kunzlenotes, Wilhelm Busch, a trend-setting nineteenth-century cartoonist, used virtually no motion lines in his popular figure until about 1877.

Now you can extract the following information from the above paragraph of the passage:

The title of the passage : Visual Symbols and the blind
Section headings : Not provided.
Special prints : David Kunzle ,Wilhelm Busch,
Any diagram/ table/ picture/ table etc.: Year 1877, and a picture.

Tips # 1: Pay special attention to the Years, date and time. In IELTS reading there are many questions those simply ask the time or date. And these types of questions are very easy to answer if you pay attention to the provided year, name, date and time.

Step 2:
Do not read the whole passage first:
It is a mistake to begin reading a passage without first having a reason to read. There are 3 parts to the Reading Test, and many candidates begin each part in the same way – by reading the passage. They might read it in detail, or scan it quickly to find out what the topic of the passage is and to get a general idea of the contents. However, candidates who do this first have forgotten the need to predict information. They do not have a good enough reason to read the passage so soon. Always have a reason to read a passage before you begin to do so. Have a question in your mind – something you are looking for – otherwise, you will not be managing your time well.

Step 3:
Read The Passage in a Logical Order:

    • The Title of the reading passage should give you a rough idea about the main topic of the passage. If you do not understand the meaning of the title or some of the words it contains, it does not matter.
    • Try and work out the meaning of the title while you continue to read.
    • The Headings for each section of the passage refer to what is contained in each section, and where information can be located. They also help you to predict what the passage is about.
    • Bold printed words indicate that those words are of some importance. They can also help you to predict information contained in the passage.
    • It is said that a Picture is worth a thousand words. Always look at illustrations, figures, tables, graphs and diagrams that accompany a reading passage. They often summarise, add important detail, or make information in the passage clear.
    • The Instructions contain important information that you must read. If you do not read the instructions, you will almost certainly answer some of the questions in the wrong manner. The instructions may also contain clues about the information contained in the passage.
    • What kind of Answers do you need to give? The instructions will tell you. The kinds of answers that are required, also tell you more about the information within the passage. Is the answer a name? a date? a number?
    • The Example not only provides you with the correct way to answer the questions, it tells you, in summarised form, more about the passage itself. You are not wasting time by examining the example and the answer it gives.
  • Finally, the Questions themselves provide valuable hints about the ideas contained in the passage as well as specific information to look for on your first reading.

All of the above should be quickly examined before you read the passage in any detail. It will make scanning the passage much easier, and will help you to predict a large amount of information.

Step 4:
Scanning the Reading Passage:
Scanning is the method to use when you need to search a page quickly for information that you require. You may be looking for the general idea of the information on the page (skim quickly through the information), or you may wish to scan for specific information. In either case, the method is to sweep your eyes across the page slowly and smoothly, starting at the top left, and working your way across and down the page in a wavelike motion as in the illustration below.

Practice scanning by applying the scanning technique to this page and other pages of writing of your own choice. Did you understand the general idea of the topics on the page you just scanned? Did you move smoothly and steadily? Do not read every word and do not rush. You are simply guiding your eyes with your finger or pen, and picking up information as you go, occasionally stopping for a moment to read something important that you have found, and continuing slowly back and forth, across and down the page.

It takes a little practice at first, but it is the best way to move quickly through a text without getting stuck and wasting time reading a lot of unnecessary information. You are more likely to find what you are looking for because you will have covered all parts of the page.

When scanning, guide your eyes across the page by using your first 3 fingers, or your index finger alone, or even the tip of a pen or pencil. This will prevent your eyes from wandering about on the page. You can increase your general reading speed too, by following your finger with your eyes across the page as you read. Many studies prove how much quicker people read when guiding their eyes across the page. You might be surprised to discover how much faster you will be reading.

Step 5:
Know where to start looking for an answer:
There is usually a logical place to begin looking for the answer to a reading question. This requires an understanding of the main idea or topic of each paragraph. You can save yourself a great amount of time if you work out the main idea or topic of each paragraph in the early stages of your assessment of the passage.

Finally, read around the keywords and phrases.

Now step ahead to learn how to prepare to answer all types of reading questions.

Question Types:  Multiple Choice.

There are three types of multiple choice questions in the IELTS reading exam.
1. Where there is one possible answer.
2. Where there are multiple answers for only one mark.
3. Where there are multiple answers and one mark for each.

For these questions, you may be given the start of a sentence which you have to complete with one out of four choices. Or you may be presented with a question and asked to find two, three or four items in a list of answers.

You could be asked to identify facts or opinions in the texts.

Multiple choice questions can test both your global understanding of the text or ask you for specific information. This means you will have to make the decision yourself whether to skim or scan the text.

Type 1 (one possible answer)

Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1 According to information in the text, asparagine
A is poisonous.
B can cause cancer.
C is harmless unless heated.
D should only be eaten in small amounts.

2 According to information in the text, acrylamide
A. has been found in lots of fried food.
B. has been found in snacks in Sweden.
C. is only found in western cooking.
D. is in water.

3 According to information in the text, process foods
A. should be avoided.
B. are cheaper.
C. are full of chemicals.
D. are the tastiest foods.

Type 2 (multiple answers for only one mark)

Write TWO letters A-F in box 4 on your answer sheet.

4 Which TWO examples of food is asparagine found in?
A. peanuts
B. rice
C. French fries
D. asparagus
E. chocolate
F. bananas

Type 3 (multiple answers and one mark for each)

The list below gives some of the problems for dieters raised by Dr Jones. Which THREE of these problems are mentioned by the writer of text?

A. Accessible junk food.
B. Coffee bars and after-work drinks.
C. Partners.
D. Stress & emotional situations.
E. Saboteurs and false friends.
F. Weakened resolve.

Also note that you may be asked to circle ONE, TWO, THREE or FOUR letters.

How to answer the multiple choice questions:

  • Read the instructions carefully and check how many letters you need to circle.
  • Skim all the questions and the answer choices quickly. As you do this,
   » Underline the key words (the words that give you the most information).
   » Try to get an idea of the topic you will be reading about from the vocabulary of the questions.
   » Look at any illustrations or diagrams that go with the text.
  • Go back to the first question. Decide if you are looking for specific information or whether the question requires you to understand the whole text. Then either scan or skim the text, as appropriate, to find the answer.
  • Read the relevant part of the text very carefully.
  • Don’t leave any questions unanswered.

Question Types: Short answer questions.

There are 2 types of short answer questions in the IELTS reading exam.

1)  Questions
2)  Lists

These questions will usually tell you 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. However, this is not always the case, so check the rubric carefully.

For these questions, like the multiple choice questions, you have to apply both skimming and scanning techniques. Also, note that the answers should not require a hyphenated word (e.g. non-smoker) or a contraction (e.g. They’ve). If the answer requires a number, you can write it as a numeral (e.g. 6) or a word (e.g. six) or a combination of a numeral and a word (e.g. 6 million).

 Type 1 (Question type)
Answer the following questions using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.

1. How old was Spencer when he did his first degree?
2. Which teacher was instrumental in Spencer’s success?

 Type 2 (List type)
List FOUR reasons for Spencer being a child prodigy.
Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 3-5 on your answer sheet.
3 ……………………………
4 ……………………………
5 ……………………………

Instructions to answer the short-answer Question:

  •  Read the instructions carefully.
  • Skim all the questions quickly. As you do this:

     » Underline the key words. Decide what information you need to find in the text.
     » Look out for question words like ‘where’ and ‘who’ which indicate
»You should listen for specific things like places and people.

  • Go back to the first question and decide what part of the text you need to read.
  • Read the part carefully to find the answer.
  • You may use your own words. You don’t have to write a complete sentence but it does have to be grammatically correct.

Remember:
• If you don’t know the meaning of any of the words in the questions, look at the other questions. They might have some associated vocabulary in them to help you guess the meaning.

• The answer could be one word, two words or three words but not four or more.

• If you think you need more than three words your answer is probably incorrect.

Question Types:  Sentence completion.

There are two types of sentence completion questions in the reading exam.

1) With a selection of possible answers.
2) Without a choice of possible answers.

These questions require you to complete the end of a sentence. The questions appear in the same order as the information in the text.
Type 2 questions are similar to the short answer questions in that they will always tell you to write your answers in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS. So you can answer with one word, two words or three words but not more. They will also tell you to use words from the reading passage.

Also, note that the answers should not require a hyphenated word (e.g. non-smoker) or a contraction (e.g. They’ve). Also, if the answer requires a number, you can write it as a numeral (e.g. 6) or a word (e.g. six) or a combination (e.g. 6 million).

Type 1 (With a selection of possible answers)
Complete each of the following statements (Questions 1-3) with the best ending A-F from the box below. Write the appropriate letters A-F on our answer sheet.

1 Incorporating organic and inorganic matter
2 Spent mushroom compost
3 Adding potassium regularly

  • makes the soil more alkaline.
  • will help to encourage flowering and fruiting.
  • makes roots stronger.
  • encourages vigorous growth.
  • will help hold moisture in the soil.
  • will improve aeration

Type 2 (Without a selection of possible answers)

Complete the sentences below with words taken from the passage.
Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 4-6 on your answer sheet.

4. Bulbs should be stored ……….
5. Seeds may deteriorate if exposed to ……….
6. Summer flowering annuals should not be planted until after ……….

How to do sentence completion questions:

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Quickly read through all the sentences halves. As you do this

» Underline the key words.
» Try to work out what information you need.
» Think about the grammatical form as well as the vocabulary that should follow immediately from the stem.

  • Go back to the first sentence and decide what information you need to complete it.
  • Find the place where the information should be in the text and read it carefully.
  • Look out for synonyms and parallel expressions because the questions are not likely to use the same words as those in the text.
  • Make sure your sentences make sense both logically and grammatically.

Remember:
For type two, the answer could be one word, two words or three words but not four or more. If you think you need more than three words your answer is probably incorrect.

  • Question Types:  Notes / table / form / summary / flow chart / diagram completion.

These questions ask for specific information.
There are two types of these completion questions in the IELTS reading exam.

    1) With a selection of possible answers.
2) Without a choice of possible answers.

These questions require you to:

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

For Type 1 questions, the words or phrases provided will be different from the words in the text. There will be more words than gaps.

Type 2 questions are similar to the short answer questions in that they will tell you 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. As with short answer questions: Also note that the answers should not require a hyphenated word (e.g. non-smoker) or a contraction (e.g. They’ve). If the answer requires a number, you can write it as a numeral (e.g. 6) or a word (e.g. six) or a combination (e.g. 6 million).

Type 1
Health Problem       —         Food

High blood pressure                (1) ………..
& cholesterol
Cancer of the Colon                (2) ………..
Heart Disease                        (3) ………..
Infections                              (4) ………..
Diabetes                               (5) ………..

A.  oats & rice
B.  honey
C.  corn & wheat
D.  spices
E.  nuts & seeds
F.  herbs
G.  oils

Type 2
Complete the notes below:

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the reading passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 6-8 on your answer sheet.
Some foods like shellfish, meats and …6… may cause food poisoning if they have been infected by …7…One of the most common types of food poisoning is …8 .

How to answer these completion questions:

  • Read the instructions carefully.
  • Look at the table or form etc carefully:

» Examine any headings or subheadings.
» Try to get an idea of the topic.
» Decide what section of the passage the exercise covers.
» Anticipate grammatical form as well as vocabulary.
» If a box of answers is given, see if you can guess any of the matches & eliminate unlikely answers.
» If the question is in the form of a table, work out which way it is best to read it – horizontally or vertically.
» If the question is in the form of a summary, read through it first and see if you can guess any of the missing words.

  • Take each gap one by one and search the text for the best word(s) to fill the gap.

Remember:
• If there is a box of answers, there will be at least two you don’t need.
• If there is no box, the answer could be one word, two words or three words but not four or more.
• If you think you need more than three words your answer is probably incorrect.
• There may be alternative rubrics for these completion questions e.g. ‘complete the notice’ or ‘complete the explanation’ or ‘complete the news report’.

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April 14, 2022
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