IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the one of the most popular English proficiency tests among non-native English speakers who want to study, work or migrate to English speaking countries. Introduced in the year 1989, IELTS examination is accepted universally. There are four parts of the IELTS test-listening, reading, writing and speaking. The reading section of the IELTS test is considered to be the most difficult section.
The IELTS Reading section is basically the second part of the IELTS test. The test is taken right after the Listening section. Candidates get 60 minutes to read three long passages as well as answer 40 questions. The IELTS academic reading test is quite challenging; therefore, you need solid preparation for it. If you are wondering about how to improve reading skills in IELTS, this article will be helpful for you.
Read More: Tips to prepare for IELTS reading test
IELTS Reading Test
The reading test is a significant part of IELTS and it is an area where the students can score good marks through diligent practice and dedication. The IELTS reading test comprises passages followed by questions and tasks that need to be answered by the students based on the information from the passage. Usually, there are three separate reading passages and several tasks that follow the passages. The questions and tasks can include matching information, matching headings, matching features, identifying information, multiple-choice, identifying writer’s views, table completion, summary completion, note completion, and short questions and answers. When it comes to the marking for the test, each successful answer will fetch the student one mark. Therefore, the highest number that the students can get is 40. Later, these scores are converted into the IELTS nine-band scale.
Tips for improving reading skills in IELTS
Below are some tips for improving reading skills in IELTS which can help you sharpen vocabulary and improve your score:
1. Develop skills for all types of questions in reading
You will come across 14 different types of questions; therefore, you have to find a way to answer each of them. Some of the question types come with answers while the others do not. This kind of information will help you to save time along with finding the right answers.
2. Developing speed reading skills
The IELTS tests have a strict time limit, which challenges the ability of the candidates to complete the questions within the time frame. Therefore, developing speed reading skills will help you to find the answers quickly.
3. Understanding the full passage is not important
You certainly do not have to understand the entire passage. You are supposed to locate only the answers. The majority of the questions test your ability to find the specific information that is given to you and then understand the sentences that contain the particular information. There are basically only two types of questions that would require you to understand the entire passage. The rest of the questions would demand locating information.
Read More: Prepare for IELTS at home
4. Enhance grammar skills
Learning grammar is one of the most important parts of learning any language and the same stands true for English. While appearing for IELTS, you need to ensure that you have a sound grasp of English grammar so that you can quickly and effectively identify the correct usage of grammar. There are specific questions such as reading a passage that is designed to gauge the level of knowledge about English grammar of the students. With a firm grasp of grammar, you can easily tackle questions that require sentence completion and summarizing.
5. Identifying key words
Have you ever heard saying that each question contains within itself a clue to the answer? It is equally true for the IELTS questions which can help you identify the key information required to answer the questions correctly. The IELTS questions may have keywords that can stand out such as numbers, dates, places, names, and many more. Locating these key words in the passage can easily draw out the answer to the question and the information given in the passage can be paraphrased for the answer.
6. Scanning and skimming
One of the effective techniques that the students can employ when dealing with passage-like questions can be scanning the passage to get an overall grasp of the passage quickly. For this, the students are advised to skim through the passage without spending a lot of time reading each and every word and sentence. This not only familiarizes you with the layout of the passage but also gives you a good idea of what the passage is all about. The ideal time to be spent in this activity should not exceed three minutes so that when you are tackling individual questions, you have enough time to revisit the passage and locate the answer. To train on these skills, the students can make it a habit to skim through newspapers and magazines regularly to improve their comprehension and the ability to locate key information in a piece of writing.
7. Optimizing your vocabulary
Vocabulary can ultimately prove to be the one area that is often responsible for even good students scoring good marks. Without a good vocabulary, you may struggle to understand the questions and face difficulties while attempting to paraphrase the information presented. To develop one’s vocabulary, the students should make it a point to go through news articles, literature, and other books regularly, making sure that they are of high literary quality. They also need to ensure that whenever they come across words that they are unfamiliar with, they should make it a point to find their meaning and use it at least three times in the coming 24 hours. Special attention should be paid to getting a good idea of synonyms of common words as well since they can be asked in some of the questions in IELTS.
8. Tackling tricky and complex passages
Often the students complain that one of the reasons that they were not able to score good marks in the reading and comprehension questions in the IELTS is because the passage included complicated information. While most of the work that is included in IELTS is aimed towards laymen, every once in a while students may find themselves dealing with unfamiliar subjects and topics. To counter this challenge, the students must prepare themselves by regularly reading scientific literature and research papers. This will not only help the students become familiar with the vocabulary used in the scientific community but also train them to quickly analyze the information in the passage and simplify it for their usage. There are also plenty of resources where the students can get practice test papers which can aid them in preparing for such passages.
9. Do a strength vs weakness analysis
When the students start preparing for the IELTS, one of the best things that they can do is quickly get an idea of their own strengths and weaknesses. Even those people who are generally considered good in English do not score consistently well in all types of questions in IELTS and other English language proficiency tests. With a realistic analysis, the students will be able to focus on the high-priority areas and make the most out of their preparation time. The students can also attempt the mock IELTS test papers and evaluate their scores for a realistic result that they can expect. It is also a good idea to get plenty of feedback from knowledgeable sources who can point out the exact mistakes that the students might be making and get advice to form strategies and techniques for the concerned areas.
10. Practice as much as you can
One of the best ways to make sure that you perform well in the IELTS is to go through as many practice tests and exercises as possible. This also helps you in improving your time and responses so that when you are actually attempting the IELTS you are having a good idea of how to pace yourself. There are some great resources through which you can gain access to some of the best test demos available in the market.
These tips are bound to help you develop the necessary competency to successfully clear the IELTS test. There are plenty of more insights that you can get if you can get in touch with certain experts who specialize in IELTS coaching. With timely feedback, you can overcome the challenges that you are facing with the IELTS test and also improve your command of the English language. The students must not lose sight of the larger goal of the IELTS test which is to ensure that the students can manage their academics in an English-speaking country.