Thursday, April 4, 2013

IELTS: Tips for the Reading Section

Do I need to read the whole text first in IELTS is one of the more common questions. Put briefly, it is a very good idea to do this. There are four reasons for this:
  • Some question types require you to read the whole text (think of the paragraph/heading matching question for example).
  • Reading and understanding the whole text helps you to make intelligent guesses about answers you are not sure about
  • You save and don’t waste time if you read the whole text first – you waste time by not knowing which part of the text to focus on
  • If you want to improve your reading, you want to improve all your reading skills – meaning that your score may never improve if you don’t learn to skim a text for general meaning.

Practice the skills – 4-3-2

Learning to read a text quickly is a skill and skills take a little time to learn. Don’t expect to learn how to do it immediately. Give yourself a little time. One simple idea is to start off by skimming a text quite slowly – say in 4 minutes. Then, when you can do that, try it in 3. Then in 2. The general idea is that just because you need to skim in around 2 minutes in the exam, does not mean that you need to practise doing that way all the time before the exam.

Make notes as you go

If once you have skimmed the text for general meaning, you can’t remember what it was about, that may be a waste of time. So try making notes as you go – this is practical. How you choose to do that will depend on you. You can write, underline or highlight – use the method that works for you.

It still doesn’t work? – skim the questions and title at least

Okay, if it still doesn’t work, then maybe it is not a technique/skill for you. Try it your way. Different learners do differ and I’m always reluctant to say that something must be done one way. I would say though that it can help to read through all the questions first and look at the title of the text – that way you should get at least some idea of general meaning.