7 Tips for IELTS Reading : Nobody Told You AboutSunday, April 17, 2016
Today, relying on old tips to find answers for the IELTS reading test isn’t enough.
Although getting a higher band score is everyone`s target, it’s not the real purpose of the IELTS reading test.
Pop quiz: What is the real purpose of the IELTS reading test?
Best Answer: To test your reading comprehension skill.
Now, you can’t typically answer all questions just by reading the passage, at least not for most questions.
IELTS reading passages are more substantial and more sophisticated than those you are used to read from high school and college.
Ten years ago, you could get a decent band score just by mastering the well-known technique called “Skimming & Scanning.”
But now, IELTS test takers are getting delicate – you must understand the meaning of the passage to find the right answer.
No more tricks and I don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
People from all over the word are stumbling on IELTS as the test is going popular year after year.
And everyone is struggling with the reading test.
That old shortcut tricks to find answers won’t collect much of anything other than wrong answers these days.
As a candidate, though, you can evolve with the times, and your tactics evolve too.
Earlier, you began to use skimming, scanning and several speed reading strategies to read and answer the passage. These are called strategies to score high in the IELTS reading …well…they help to find answers.
And it worked.
But now, almost everyone is applying them in the test & it actually work in some extend.
If you`re opting for any band score little higher than 6.5; using those tips for IELTS reading isn’t something special, two things can happen.
Either you won’t get the desired band score or you end up with a very low score, being unsuccessful, you may lose interest in IELTS or re-take it again.
The most successful candidate uses advance reading strategies that are a step above everyone else’s.
Yes, it takes some time and effort, but raising your band score can open a new horizon- like higher education or immigration opportunity- in upcoming years.
It takes some advance skill and knowledge to become a high-end reader in IELTS; which is what I’m going to teach you in this post.
By the end of it, you will know how to:
- Understand the passage with emotion
- Skyrocket your comprehension skills with specific tactics
- Take your reading habit in the way beyond average candidates
You can`t simply read and extract any information from this passage if you emotionally reject to read it at first sight.
Without mental attachment, you will not find any motivation to read the passage.
This careless behavior will, in turn, bring the poor band score. You need to engage and connect with the text and evaluate it to get the most answers correct.
So, somehow you need to build a positive attitude towards the passage, you need to like it.
Let`s go through some methods of how you can love to read an IELTS passage:
One effective method to like this is to imagine that you need to read this passage just once in a lifetime. You need to read it for the sake of IELTS. When you get the high band score, you don’t have to encounter this exam (boring) again.
It may sound so pessimistic, but if you have such a mind setting, it will help.
Can you remember the movie called "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". This is a typical Hollywood movie where you can identify the good guys vs bad guys; where good guy won the last battle.
Do you know people who read often are smarter than who do not read at all.
Reading makes you sharp and insightful; enhance your ability to detect meaningful patterns from the environment and solve problems quickly.
The lesson you learn from reading passages of IELTS reading test can be helpful to solve your real life problems- not only the questions of the test.
So, for the sake of overall benefit, you need to feel good about reading IELTS passages. Apart from practice test books, you can also go through several online materials like this.
Reading Tips #2: Identify the Tone of the Passage
Research shows that IELTS candidates comprehend better when they can grasp the main idea of the passage at the beginning.
IELTS Reading Comprehension passages include topics from a variety of fields, including arts, sciences, social sciences, etc.
Understating of these scholarly essays demands you get familiar with the type of information you’re presented with.
You need to know first what subject areas the passage is covering. Is it a fiction, a scientific or a historical one?
More than 50% of the time, the main idea of a passage is stated in the title or first sentence of the paragraph- briefing you what to expect and act as a signpost to connect with further details.
Reading Tips #3: Link with your personal knowledge
- UPS: A renowned parcel service.
- FBI: Intelligence service of the United States (you may know it from Hollywood movies)
- JFK : International Airport in New York (Your friend told you the name after visiting US)
- NASA : US space program agency (You`ve read about it in a science fiction)
- NATO: An alliance of countries from North America and Europe (You know it from newspaper or news channels)
The understanding of words and ideas of the passage is always shaped by what you already know about the particular world you are living in.
First of all, it is not necessary for you to understand everything in a reading passage.
Second of all, you can simplify long sentences by avoiding passive, complex or compound structure.
Unsimplified: Yet a host of factors pushes employers to hire fewer workers for more hours and, at the same time, compels workers to spend more time on the job.
Simplified: Employers hire few workers to spend more time on the job for a number of factors.
Unsimplified: To make political decisions about the extent and type of forestry in a region, it is important to understand the consequences of those decisions.
Simplified: The decision about forestry in a region must consider the consequences.
Third of all, you can make lexical simplification in sentence comprehension.
In many cultures, long hair is a symbol of sexuality. Short hair symbolizes self-control, while a shaved head often indicates celibacy.
Reading Tips #5: Built a relationship
- In the beginning, the first few sentences of every passage will give you a clue what the passage is about.
- As you go further, you`ll experience the writer is explaining the topic of the passages with examples, steps, logics, cause & effect.
Reading Tips #6: Pay Attention to Breaks
Follow the steps below to do this.
First: Identify the topic sentence
But, sometimes you may need to go through the middle or end of the paragraph to find it. Some passages can also imply the topic without ever mentioning a topic sentence.
That’s why it’s often tricky to locate the topic sentence- which is usually “more general” and talks about many things (“the personal consumer and organizational consumer” in the example).
Let's try this example:
The topic sentence describes two entities: Personal and Organizational consumer. You`ll obviously think: What do this mean?
That is why; the body sentences exactly explain these two types of consumer- giving the answer to your question.
That`s the exact spirit of a paragraph- giving & explaining a topic. All you have to do is find the topic and read it`s explanation to grasp the flow of ideas.
In this way, you`ll find it easy to read any long and complex paragraphs.
But, sometimes you`ll find the main ideas or topics are changing within a paragraph- making you confused.
In these cases, pay attention to linkers- they help you identify the transitional point of ideas within a paragraph.
In other words, transitional words, act as signposts that will guide you to the change of topic like below:
- Cause-and-effect words -- as a result, therefore
- Time words -- meanwhile, before
- Contrast words -- in contrast, conversely, however
- Addition words -- also, in addition
- Emphasis words -- more important, remember
IELTS reading passage is a jigsaw puzzle.
You need to fit all parts of the passage in your mind to understand the big picture.
To fit all information together, You`ll simply lose to the details in a passage.
But, most of the questions come from these details.
For this reason, you have to predict what you are going to read as your eyes pass over the passage.
Then, you need to match your anticipation with reality to make some sense of them.
You are actually using this technique on many occasions without knowing that you are using this technique
You`ll remember when you saw something in a movie-like someone is approaching a car-probably he will drive it (your anticipation)-yes? All you have to wait to see if he drives it or not.
Using this natural technique is easy while watching a movie.
But, what about IELTS reading test? Can you use this technique here as well?
Let`s use it while reading a passage from the Cambridge Practice Test for IELTS -1.
The first paragraph says about technological changes of architectural style in 19th centuries. So, you expect the next paragraphs should highlight on "technology".
The second paragraph exactly describes these "latest technology"- which are steel, glass and concrete,
The third paragraph states that “Modernism” movement of architecture actually resolve these odd conditions created by industrialization.
You’ll be fine and dandy as long as you know the meaning of those words and grasp how they make a meaningful sentence altogether.
As a reader, you`ll not struggle with words, but with yourself.
Ideas, emotions, logic – those are the real building blocks of great reading, and if you’re to understand them, first you have to understand yourself.
Every IELTS reading passage you ever encounter will engage and challenge you to understand them. Assuming you’re willing to try, of course.
And most IELTS candidates aren’t. They’ll read the steps above and think, “Maybe, I’ll try it someday.” But they won’t.
They’ll go back to their usual reading habit and forget all about it.
I’m hoping you’re different. I’m hoping you’re one of the few that’s willing to work on this and get a handsome band score.
I’m hoping you’ll one day read with such power the words will appear easy peasy upon the page.
Will you be one of them?