Far too often candidates who have high speaking skills misjudge their other abilities (listening, reading and writing) and assume that those sections of the IELTS test will be a piece of cake. Just because a person is able to talk with native English speakers, for example, doesn’t mean that he or she is able to read English text at that same level. So if you need to improve your reading skills or if you have an IELTS test soon, here are 4 tips for the IELTS Reading Test.
Read Every Day
Set aside at least 30 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time each day (ideally around the time that you will be taking the IELTS test) and practice reading. Read news articles, human-interest pieces, sports, science journals – whatever. The goal is to improve your ability to simply focus on English text for an extended period. To go along with this, it’s recommended that you keep a journal of what you have read. In the event that you take a class or book private lessons, your instructor will be interested in what you’re doing to prepare on your own time.
Skim and Scan
Both of these skills are crucial if you’re concerned about running out of time on the Reading section. Skim the article for the overall meaning. Focus on the first and last sentence of each paragraph specifically. After this initial skim, read the article again for details and meaning. Scanning for details is useful when you need to refer back to the article to look for an answer. While you can use any materials to practice these skills, it’s best to stick with IELTS Reading materials. You can find some free practice materials online here.
Highlight Details AND Connectors
On the computer-delivered IELTS test, there is a highlight feature in the Reading section. If you’re going with the traditional paper-based IELTS test, you can underline text with your pencil. Pay attention to any facts and specific details: dates, names, amounts, and so on. But here’s where most people go wrong. They forget to notice one thing: connectors. Words such as “however” and phrases like “on the other hand” signal a shift in the argument and it’s very possible that the information following one of these words or phrases will be one of the answers that is needed. A common mistake for test takers is to highlight details and facts only, and rely on that information for all of the Reading answers. This tactic is not detrimental; it’s simply inefficient. Remember to look for what is connecting ideas or transitioning a view point or argument.
Study with a Professional
Compare the cost of writing another IELTS test, and maybe achieving the score you need, to the cost of taking a part-time IELTS Reading class or hiring a private tutor. Simply meeting with an experienced and qualified IELTS instructor for two to four hours so he or she can assess your reading ability and offer you some specific notes could save you money in the long run. In the absolute worst cases, candidates will simply write the IELTS test over and over and over with the misconception that “this will be the one.” Step back for a moment. Tests such as IELTS are for language assessment. While your score may fluctuate (and for some test takers it absolutely does) there will not be that magical IELTS test with questions that are better suited for you. So rather than spend the money on another test, spend it on preparation with an instructor who can give you specific and honest feedback. If you have any questions, contact us anytime.
By Bryan Candy