Top tips for IELTS reading module
If you are considering taking IELTS any time soon, you may find the following tips useful in getting the desired band in the Reading module.
Too much to read? - Both the Academic Module and the General Training Module of IELTS require candidates to read three long texts totaling about 2500-2750 words and answer 40 questions of different types with varying difficulty levels in just 60 minutes. That is quite a lot of ground to cover in a short time!
Obstacles on the way: Candidates may encounter many problems ranging from a slow speed of reading to a limited range of vocabulary and grammar, and inadequate schematic knowledge of various fields that are pertinent to academic pursuits and survival in English-speaking countries. Other problems may include unfamiliarity with the organizational features of a well-written text, poor time management, and lack of practice.
Diagnose your problems and take steps to resolve them as early as you can.
Top Tips for Effective Reading
The IELTS reading section presents quite a few challenges to most candidates, but there is no need to panic. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help you improve your score in Reading quite dramatically. Here are a few suggestions that you may find useful:
Read Fast: To speed up your reading you should avoid using a finger or a pencil as a cue. Avoid sub-vocalising i.e. reading 'aloud in the mind' and instead of reading just one or two words every time you fix your eye on the text, read in 'sense groups' i.e. groups of words that together make a unit of meaning. And before you know, you may be reading fast without compromising on comprehension.
Pay attention to the content words: Content words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and they carry most of the meaning in a text. Grammar or structure words i.e. auxiliaries, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, on the other hand, help in the clarity of meaning. Of course, both types demand attention, but it is a good idea to pay more attention to the content words to decipher meaning.
Figure out the meaning: IETLS Reading texts typically employ difficult vocabulary. However, you should not unnecessarily worry too much about that because if you do not know the exact meaning of a word or phrase, work it out from its neighbouring words or phrases. These 'neighbours' might be synonyms, antonyms, definitions, or explanations of the difficult vocabulary items in question.
Notice the way a text is organised: Often the title and the sub-title of a text are good indicators of its focus, purpose, and contents. So are any pictures, diagrams, tables, etc. Look for the key or topic sentence in each paragraph, decode the meaning of paragraph titles and see how ideas are connected to and flow from each other. Look for the structure of the text— introduction, development of the topic, and conclusion— and mark it well as you read. Also, identify the main ideas and their supporting ideas in a text. If paragraph titles are missing, it is a good idea to supply your own. Keep them short and precise. As you read, feel free to mark or flag important ideas or chunks of information in a text.
Determine the author's purpose, tone, and attitude: Every time you read a text, you must ask yourself what the author's purpose of writing is (e.g. to inform, to describe, to argue, to discuss), and what kind of attitude or approach and tone he/she has to the topic. This knowledge will help you understand the text better.
Be familiar with the different test items and their rubrics: Find out what different types of reading questions may be employed in the Reading module—blanks, sentence completion, diagram labeling, table completion, true/false/not given, matching items, etc. and practise as much as you can to ace them without making any errors. It is important to carefully read the rubrics or instructions for answering the questions, for each type requires a different kind of answer.
Get a peep into the examiner's head: Think of what your reading section examiner may be interested in testing. What kind of questions can he or she ask and from which areas of a text? Quite often, questions deal with such areas as data, figures, names, places, people, events, reasons/causes, conditions, purposes, features, characteristics, to name just a few. And as you read a text, look for areas that contain such information, and you will find that often, questions are based on them!
Time your practice: Initially, don't worry about the time limit. Look for the minutest of the details and try to get each answer right. Once you have got a knack for doing that, quicken your pace gradually such that in a matter of days you learn to finish all the 40 questions in about 40-45 minutes and have some time to double-check and revise your answers.
Avoid conjectures or speculations: Guesswork may be good for figuring out the meaning of words and phrases in a text, but it can be disastrous to answer any questions merely based on guesses. So, instead of relying on conjectures or speculations, apply logic and reasoning and get all your answers right. Also remember, not all questions are framed keeping in mind the sequence in which the information for their answers occurs in a text.
If you follow these tips and rely on your power of logic and reasoning, you can get a higher score in your Reading module! Click here to watch videos on IELTS Reading.
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