Reading on the IELTS exam is done differently to many other test because you have to find your answers in the context of a whole article rather than just a paragraph. The best way to do this is to summarise the most important parts of each paragraph in a note at the edge of your page as you read. This way you can find your way back to the paragraph that you need quickly.
Now when I say summarise, I really mean what was the author’s goal is writing this?
- Does he / she want to define something?
- Do they want to make a list?
- Do they want to give an opinion?
- Do they wany to contrast or compare something?
Looking at it this way also lets you understand the structure of the writing, so when you get the question asking about yje writer’s intention you know how to answer it.
When studying the answers are not important…. how you find them is!
This is what is called a transferable skill. Look at the words that appear before the answers while you are practicing. Very often the actual answers on the test are sign posted by linking words…. but, however, thus, although…
you get the idea. Find these words and see how many of them point to answers on the test.
While you are preparing try to make a list as as many linking words as you can and get used to looking for them.
To explain to my students how to deal with vocabulary words that they are unfamiliar with or that they don’t know, I get then to guess the meaning by trying to find it in the context of the article. This video shows you exactly what I mean by this.
Another great way to learn new words is not by memorizing them, but by using them. Read Read Read…. say the words oit loud and record them on your phone. Before you sleep, play the word list that you have created.
Literal and inference questions
These are questions where you must convey your understanding of the author means by his or her word choices. Often the answers to these questions will not be explicitly stated in the test, but you understand it by seeking the author’s true intentions.
The structure will also help you to understand the meaning of an article, so look for problem solution structures, any lists and any definitions. These are all clues that will assist your understanding.
There will be one section where you will be asked about the opinions of some of the people in the article…. This is where your skillful note taking will come in handy again (look for believes, feels, thinks, takes the position, advocated, criticizes, disagrees, agrees) and make a note of their initials and their thinking as you summarise. If you try to remember their names and who said what, it can be extremely difficult.
True False not given
True means that you will find the answer that agrees with the statement in the article; False means that you will find information that contradicts the statement in the article; and Not given means that you are looking for something that isn’t there. If you can not remember it, there is a good chance that it was not mentioned in the article.
Yes no not given
In this type of question the passage is discussing the opinion of the author, another person, or group of people. You answer it in the same way as you would answer true false and not given….. if you can find the answer in the article the answer is yes. If the article says the opposite or that the sentence given is not correct, then the answer is no, and of course the not given response is used when the content is not provided.
When the writer restates something using different words, they do it for a reason. It is important. Make a note of this. Also, see how often the answers appear at the ends of paragraphs…. often the writer is building to something and makes his/her most important points here. A good tip.
Using books to learn a language
The British council made a fantastic video about learning to read and improving your IELTS score and shares it n their FB. It doesn’t take long and may give you the motivation to keep going.