IELTS READING STRATEGIES

To achieve the best results in the Reading module, you should use a combination of strategies simultaneously. Below are several strategies and tips that will help you with this part of the IELTS exam.

ESSENTIAL READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS

The following reading comprehension tactics are always effective and important to use during the Academic or General Training Reading Modules of the IELTS.

Skimming and Scanning

We use skimming and scanning skills on a regular basis in everyday life. Skimming (reading for general ideas) might be used to decide if a long article will be useful for a research project, or for quickly gathering key information from a report in preparation for a meeting. Scanning (reading for specific information) might be used to find a departure time on a bus timetable or to find out when a movie is playing from a schedule.

Both skimming and scanning involve reading a text quickly, so they are important skills to use on the IELTS exam. However, as you can see, they are used for different goals. Skimming should be used during the IELTS when you need to quickly read for Just the main idea of a text, without thinking about specific details. It involves selective reading of the most important parts of the text to find out how the text is organised and get the general idea of what the text is about. Scanning should be used when you need to read to find specific pieces of information such as names, dates and facts.

Identifying Main Ideas and Details

Texts are divided into paragraphs to make them easier to read. A text is usually organised in the following way:

•Introduction: theme, statement and objective
•Paragraph 2: topic, supporting point or detai[s
•Paragraph 3: topic, supporting point or details
•Conclusion; summary and restatement of main idea

In the introduction, the writer usually outlines what he or she is going to write about and the main issues to be raised. Each paragraph usually deals with one key issue, which is stated in a topic
sentence and possibly summarised in the last sentence of the paragraph. Supporting details are used to develop and explain the main idea of the paragraph.

[Introduction]
Article theme:What are the connections between psychological and physical well-being!

[Paragraph]
Topic and main idea: Regular exercise makes people happier. Detail: endorphins

Extract:
[Introduction]
Open almost any newspaper or magazine these days and we find doctors and scientists telling us that being healthy directly affects our psychological well-being. But exactly what do the experts say about what makes us feel good!

[Paragraph]
Regular exercise is obviously a good way to keep healthy and fit, but scientists now,think that exercise improves our psychological health by releasing chemicals called ’endorphins’ into the brain. Endorphins have been shown to elevate feelings of happiness and well-being. Some scientists claim that exercise can be as useful a treatment for depression as psychotherapy, and that by lifting our mood, it can help us feel more positive about ourselves and our lives. According to some doctors, something as seemingly simple as a daily ten-minute walk can greatly improve our quality of life.

 

Understanding Opinion

An opinion is a personal belief which may or may not be true. It is different from a fact, which is a statement known to be true or based on generally accepted evidence. In texts, opinions are usually introduced by phrases such as:

•Professor Jones argues that . . .
•Several experts claim that . . .
•Some people say that .
•It is a commonly held belief that . .
•In Harriets view, . . .
•Many scientists suspect that . . .

Facts, on the other hand, might be introduced by phrases such as:

•According to the latest statistics, . .
•Scientists have discovered . . .
•Research findings confirm that . . .
•As has been frequently demonstrated, . . .

When answering questions related to the writer’s opinion, you should be careful not to allow your own opinions to interfere with your choice of answer. You should remember that you are looking for the writer’s idea, not your own.

GENERAL STRATEGIES FOR THE READING NODULE

The following strategies are always effective. It is important to use them for all Reading module question types.

Strategy 1:Make notes

You are allowed to make notes on IELTS question booklets, and IELTS examiners will never fools at these notes. During the examination, you can make notes, underline, or draw arrows and symbols on the reading question booklet to help yourself understand the text better and find answers faster. This might help you avoid having to read the same portions of the text again to refresh your memory.

Strategy 2: Try to predict what you are going to read about

Before you read a text in the IELTS Reading module, try to guess what the topics of that passage will be. One way to do this is to use the information in the title, any subheadings and the introduction.

Strategy 3:Build a mental map of the passage as you are skimming it

Reading a text for the first time can be disorientating—you may find it difficult to find your way around. A useful technique to help you ‘navigate’ a text is to build a mental map. Identify the topic or purpose of each paragraph in the passage. Make notes (a couple of words) about the main idea or purpose of paragraphs and sections next to them to help you. Knowing what the paragraphs are about will help you find answers faster.

Strategy 4:Identify the type of text you are reading

For example, identify whether it is about a problem and a solution, or a chronological account of something, or whether it discusses positive and negative points regarding a certain topic, and so on. This can be done by quickly skimming the text and looking at the title, introduction and paragraph openings. These will give you the clues needed to identify the main ideas, topics and organisation of the text.

Strategy 5:Study the keywords

To locate the parts of the text where the answers might be, carefully study the keywords in the questions and then scan the text for these or synonymous and parallel expressions. Using your mental map of the text should help you do this.

Strategy 6:Skim actively

When you skim a text, try not to worry about words you do not understand. Instead, try to get an overall impression of the text, making sure you read the first sentence of each paragraph. These will give you an overview of the text. Remember that sometimes two different task types may focus on the same part of the text. However, you will not be tested on exactly the same information.

Strategy 7:

To read effectively, you need to make intelligent guesses about the meaning of words you do not know, if they seem important in the context. Try to work out the meaning from the surrounding words and sentences, and think of other words that might fit the context.

Strategy 8:

You must enter your answers on the separate answer sheet during the 60 minutes allowed for the module. You can either write your answers directly on the answer sheet as you go through the test or transfer them later, making sure you leave at least 10 minutes for this.

If you cannot figure out an answer, go on to the next question. Some questions in the reading test might be easier than other questions, so it is a good idea to save as much time as possible by dealing quickly with the easier questions. Before you move on to other questions, do not forget to mark the difficult one with some sort of symbol, like a question mark, so that you can easily find it later, if you still have time for this.

 

SPECIFICS STRATEGIES FOR READING MODULE QUESTION TYPES

The following strategies refer to skills that are always important to use for certain Reading module question types.

COMPLETION TASKS

  • You should only include the words essential to answering the question correctly. Correct answers can contain fewer than the maximum number of words stated in the instructions.
  • In completion tasks with words taken directly from the text, you should try to predict the type of answer you are looking for. Next, skim the section you have identified and tool for synonyms and paraphrases. Think about both the meaning and the grammar and remember to use the exact word(s) from the passage; in this type of task, you must not change the form of the words you add in any way.
  • In completion tasks with options given in a box, you should read the options carefully. It is likely that more than one option could complete the sentence, as options will often have the same grammatical structure. You should therefore focus more on the meaning of the sentence than on grammar. You need to consider all the options in the box. When you have finished, you need to check that you have not used the same option twice.

 

MULTIPLE-CHOICE TASKS

  • First try to eliminate the options that seem logically wrong. Eliminate options by putting a cross beside them when you arc sure they are wrong. Remember, in some cases an option may hr true, but does not answer the question.
  • Check that the answer you choose is not only correct according to the passage, but also gives an appropriate reason or explanation to answer tic question or complete the sentence. When you think you have Found the correct answer co a multiple-choice question, remember to check that the three other options are definitely wrong.

MATCHING TASKS

  • When matching pictures to sections of text, try to think of different words to describe what is in each picture and look for keywords in the text. Match the ones you are sure about first and the more difficult ones second. When matching statements, try to identify keywords in the statements and look for synonyms or paraphrases of these keywords in the text(s).
  • You should skim the passage to build a ‘mental map’ of the text by noting the main idea of each paragraph. It is good idea to match as many headings as you can without reading the phage again, and cross of the headings you have used, including the example.
  • Beside each paragraph you should write the number of all the options that might be suitable. Then make sure each possible option fits the meaning of the whole paragraph and dose not simply use some of the same words.

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