For some candidates, the IELTS Reading Test is the most difficult part of the exams. It is also the one that requires the most practice and training. There are some ways to be better prepared to pass the exam with confidence and practised efficiency. Easy mistakes are easy to make, but when you have prepared and practised, and follow these eight tips, you’ll be ready to do your best.
Tips to prepare for the IELTS Reading Test
1- Learn to read with a purpose
Many people enjoy reading, and that is fine. It is a leisure activity that helps expand your mind and your language skills. But in an exam environment, it is only a tool to pass. In the case of the IELTS exam, you must be able to read quickly and comprehend the most important points of what you have read. This is a mindset that takes time and practice to develop. One way you could do this is by learning a specific way to study. For example, begin a chapter by understanding the general topic and the purpose of the chapter, write down one to three questions that you intend to answer by reading the chapter in full. Set a time limit, read it, and answer the questions.
2 – Know the difference between singular and plural
This is something many students of English struggle with at first. But you must learn and understand the difference between singular and plural versions of words. There is an example right there, word vs word. One word vs many words. One way you can practice this is by looking at random objects or ideas, and saying to yourself both the singular and plural version of that word. Look at the chair, and then remember that the plural is chairs. You will get into the habit of this and very quickly it will come easily to you.
3 – Practice skimming and scanning
Like the first tip, but where that tip focuses on comprehension and the “purpose” behind what you are reading, this tip is about how to achieve that within a time limit. The IELTS Reading Test is timed, and this means that you need to read and answer the questions within the time limit. Practice reading a page as fast as possible while still understanding the main ideas. This is not to say that you need to skip much, but you don’t need to fully read every single word on a page to understand what is being said.
4 – Develop your speed reading abilities
By practising tip three, you will begin to read faster. But this is more than skimming and scanning written information, it is about mentally processing each line or sentence very quickly. Ideally, you should be able to read one line in one to two seconds. This will obviously allow you to read something very quickly. But the downside is that this skill does reduce your comprehension and recall memory. So only use it in the test when you are running out of time.
Tips to pass the IELTS Reading Test on the Test day.
5 – Read the question and be sure you understand what it is asking
Sounds simple. But, in reality, it is a very hard concept to remember to use. There are many times during the test where you will feel rushed, you might skim, scan or speed read the question and believe that you have understood exactly what it is asking. That is good, but you might also have misunderstood what it is truly asking. It would be advisable to read the question once, understand what is being asked, read it a second time just to be sure. Then answer the question and once you have finished writing your answer, re-read the question a third time to be sure that what you have written does answer the question originally asked. You might find that by working through the actual answer, that you have a deeper understanding of what was being asked that was different to what you originally thought.
6 – Pay attention to timing
The IELTS Reading Test is a timed exam. That means you need to be very mindful of the time. If you think that you have estimated you are ahead of time and will have a lot of time to answer the remaining questions, then you do not need to feel too much pressure. However, if you can see that you have many questions still left to answer but only a short time left, it may be a good idea to start speed reading, scanning or skimming the work. It is better to answer all questions at a good level, then to answer some questions perfectly.
7 – If you don’t know, move on
Honestly, this is hard to do. It feels like you must answer every single question in the exam, to the best of your abilities. But, sometimes a question is simply too hard for you to answer. Maybe it is in an area you have not studied, or for some reason, it is not making sense to you. Maybe you are stuck on a word or a concept. That is fine. It is better to try your best and move on or to simply skip the question than to waste your time answering something you don’t know.
8 – Attempt all questions
Is this a contradiction to the last tip? Kind of. When we are saying that you should skip questions you cannot answer, no matter how hard you try, we are not saying that you should not try at all. There is a difference there. Try your best first. But if you cannot understand or answer the question after trying, then move on. This is important to keep in mind when you are aware of the time limit.
Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to better prepare for and take the IELTS Reading Test. The skills and understanding gained from practising for this test will be a great benefit to you in everything you do afterwards. So, the concepts here are not just required for the IELTS exams, but also for your continued learning and use throughout life. Do your best, try your hardest and you will do well!