The IELTS Reading section is the second part of the IELTS test and is taken immediately after the Listening section. You’ll have 60 minutes to read three long passages and answer 40 questions. The difficulty of the IELTS Reading section comes from having to understand a large amount of text and accurately answer questions about what you read in a short amount of time. This is especially true for the Academic Reading portion of the test, as you’ll be presented with more difficult text. Today, we’re sharing 10 study tips to help you get a high score on the IELTS Reading section!
Read as Many Different English Texts as You Can
One of the best ways to improve your reading comprehension is to read as much as possible. Try to expose yourself to as many English reading materials as you can—books, newspaper articles, online publications, academic materials, and even social media. Being exposed to a variety of written content will help improve your reading skills and broaden your vocabulary.
Your reading speed will improve, too, which will give you an edge when taking the real test. Remember, your time will be limited, so reading questions quickly will save you valuable seconds on the test.
Don’t Make Reading Your Only Study Tactic
Being an avid reader is great. Unfortunately, reading a lot of books only does so much to prepare you for the IELTS test. The Reading section is designed to test your ability to identify important information. So unless you’re closely analyzing everything you read, you won’t be fully prepared for the Reading section.
One helpful exercise is to create questions for yourself. Find an article that interests you and read it. As you do, take note of what you think is the most important information. After, come up with a question or two (in the IELTS Reading format) about the article you read. This will help you get in a mindset that will lead to success.
Learn Unfamiliar Words
As you read different texts, get into the habit of highlighting confusing words or phrases. Then make sure to learn what they mean. This will help you avoid stumbling across a word you don’t recognize during the actual test.
Try Reading the Questions First
Before reading the passages in the Reading section, take a look at the questions first. Since they directly relate to the passages, knowing the questions beforehand will help you know what to look out for as you read.
After reading the passage through the first time, return to the questions and re-read them. This will help you pinpoint which sections of the passage you need to pay careful attention to.
Remember, Spelling Counts
If your answer is spelled incorrectly, it will be marked wrong. The good news is that you don’t lose points for wrong answers, so if you’re not sure how to spell a word, give it your best shot anyway. You may get it right!
For more IELTS help, check out our list of the 5 Best IELTS Preparation Books for International Students and the 6 Common IELTS Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
Watch Out for Traps
As mentioned above, the Reading section is all about reading a text and identifying key information. Let’s say you’ve followed our advice and read the questions before reading the text. You then spot a word in the text you saw in one of the questions. That must be the answer, right?
We’ll let our friend Admiral Ackbar take this one:
The Reading section is set up to test your reading comprehension and part of this means making sure you’re paying attention. Some questions are designed to mislead you into thinking they have obvious answers. Always re-read your answers to make sure they are doing what the question asks. Don’t fall into a trap!
During the Reading test, you may be asked to label a diagram. The good news is that you’ll find the words you need in the text. As noted above, spelling counts, so be sure to accurately copy any words you need.
Highlight Important Information
The Reading section asks you to process a lot of information in a short amount of time. To make things easier for yourself, underline and circle important words and sentences as you go.
Divide Your Time Evenly Between Passages
The Reading test asks you to answer questions on three different passages. The recommendation is that you spend 20 minutes on each passage. This may not seem like much time to devote to a single passage but remember, you only have one hour to complete the Reading section.
By splitting your time evenly between all three passages, you’ll give yourself the best chance of overall success. Just remember to keep an eye on the time, as you don’t want to end up with only 10 minutes to spend on the last passage.
A Few Other Tips to Keep in Mind:
- You don’t lose points for wrong answers—so never leave a blank space
- Make notes on your question paper, but remember, only your answer sheet will be marked
- You’ll be writing in pencil, so remember to bring an eraser
- For the True/False questions, you can write “T” or “F” instead of True or False, respectively
- Questions aren’t always linear, meaning the process of answering them doesn’t necessarily have one starting and ending point
We hope you found these tips helpful and wish you the best of luck on the IELTS Reading section!
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