Along with IELTS Writing, IELTS Reading is the area of the IELTS exam that I find most people find challenging. The amount of text to read, the number of questions and the short amount of time to do it all conspire to create something which most students feel is impossible and create panic in many.
I want to tell you that there is a way forward with reading which can see you achieving very high scores and it doesn’t demand a lot of work or effort from you. In fact you can continue to practise the reading as you do now and just approach the tasks a little differently and you will soon be able to improve your score and get the high band that you are looking for. And the good news is that once everything has fallen into place you should stay at this high band level.
So to help you to focus in the right place for great IELTS reading results here are some facts that you should take on board.
Many people learn very specific techniques and use these in a very rigid way. For example read only the first sentence and the last sentence of a paragraph. There are many others. These limited strategies can often stop you from really looking for the answer and can often miss the place where the answer lies.
Don’t make too many assumptions about IELTS Reading – such as everything is in order. In passage one this generally may be true and you will mostly start at the beginning – but – sometimes (and especially in passage 3) you cannot guarantee these things. Instead be open to the text and use other clues to help you find the place for the answer.
Your knowledge of English will help you move through the text and locate the correct answers as much as anything else. The truth is that the better your understanding of English, especially grammar, the easier the IELTS exam will be for you. So, don’t ignore English vocabulary, grammar and punctuation – ALL of these can make or break your performance in IELTS reading.
Practice makes perfect, the more you practise the better you will become – with the following caveat – you MUST practise the RIGHT things. If you practise the WRONG things you will get good at those and this is often the problem for many IELTS students.
Key words are KEY. You must get really good at identifying key words in the questions and then using these to find the place in the text and then using them again to find the answer. Don’t jump in the first key word you find, make sure they are all there (or most of them) in some form or other. In this way you can be confident that you have the right place.
The question is the key to everything. Everything you need to find the correct answer in the text is in the question so read this very carefully. All the words are important to really get what the question is asking and you need 3 or 4 of the words in the question as key words to find the answer.
All techniques and strategies for reading need to be flexible and adaptable – that way it does not matter what the text is about you will find the answers easily and quickly. This is what I teach all my students and they find that their reading improves a lot and they actually begin to enjoy it