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Essential IELTS Reading Tips – Part 1

Whether you are taking IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training, make sure to follow these basic tips to improve your reading score.

There are a number of things you must do to make sure you get a good score on the IELTS Reading exam. Make sure you follow these basic tips to make the most of your time, and improve your score.

Manage your time effectively

Time management is the ability to divide your time effectively between the reading tasks. Depending on whether you are taking IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training, you will have to divide your time between a different number of texts. For IELTS Academic you will divide your time, 60 minutes, amongst three texts. For IELTS General training, there are three sections. Section 1 contains 2-3 short texts or several shorter texts; Section 2 contains 2 texts; and Section 3, one long text. For more information, click here.

Make sure you don’t spend too much time on just one text – you need to give enough time to complete each text! To do this, you can use different strategies (like the ones below) to get through each set of questions as quickly as possible. That way will not not run out of time.

Learn to skim

Skimming is reading a text or paragraph quickly to get the overall idea or topic. That is, don’t read every single word in detail, just read through quickly to get a general idea of the topic or purpose of the text.

For example, skim read this paragraph and ask yourself: what is the general topic of this paragraph?

Helium itself is not rare; there is actually a plentiful supply of it in the cosmos. In fact, 24 percent of our galaxy’s elemental mass consists of helium, which makes it the second most abundant element in our universe. Because of its lightness, however, most helium vanished from our own planet many years ago. Consequently, only a miniscule proportion – 0.00052%, to be exact – remains in earth’s atmosphere. Helium is the by-product of millennia of radioactive decay from the elements thorium and uranium. The helium is mostly trapped in subterranean natural gas bunkers and commercially extracted through a method known as fractional distillation.

What do you think this paragraph is about?

From skimming, we can say the topic of this paragraph is: helium, where it is found, and how it is extracted on earth.

Learn to scan

Scanning is similar to skimming, but slightly different. Scanning means to read through a text very quickly to find what it says about a specific topic, such as a date or statistic.

For example: Read this question:

8) What did researchers identify as the ideal time to wake up in the morning?

Now, scan through these two paragraphs and try to find the answer. Clue: look for keywords! Such as “wake up”; time of day; am/pm etc. The text may also use synonyms.

Knowledge of chronobiological patterns can have many pragmatic implications for our day-to-day lives. While contemporary living can sometimes appear to subjugate biology – after all, who needs circadian rhythms when we have caffeine pills, energy drinks, shift work and cities that never sleep? – keeping in synch with our body clock is important.

The average urban resident, for example, rouses at the eye-blearing time of 6.04 a.m., which researchers believe to be far too early. One study found that even rising at 7.00 a.m. has deleterious effects on health unless exercise is performed for 30 minutes afterward. The optimum moment has been whittled down to 7.22 a.m.; muscle aches, headaches and moodiness were reported to be lowest by participants in the study who awoke then.

A) 6.04

B) 7.00

C) 7.22

D) 7.30

The correct answer: (C).

Both skimming and scanning will help you save time and get through the reading faster. As we said before, it is important to manage your time effectively.

To practice this whole reading test, follow this link.

Don’t get lazy! Read the whole paragraph

As we could see in the paragraph above, there are many times listed: 6.04am, 7.00am, 7.22am. As soon as you see something you think may be the answer, don’t just chose it! Make sure you read the paragraph carefully first to confirm. It is important to be quick, but is more important to be correct!

Know Synonyms

As we saw in the text above, the question and the text will use different words (synonyms) that have the same (or almost the same) meaning. In the question, the word “ideal” is used, but in the text, a synonym – “optimum” – is used. Also in this paragraph, instead of using the phrase “wake up” they use synonyms such as: “rouse”, “rise” and “awake” which in this context all mean “to wake up”. For more practice on Reading for IELTS, attend an IELTS Coaching courses at English Key in Melbourne or Sydney. Our experienced teachers will help you get the score you need! And for more test tips, stay tuned to our blog for Essential Reading Tips – Part 2!

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