4 Things you should know about IELTS Reading Test:
1️⃣ Don’t expect to understand every word
Many of my students have been taught to look up every word in a dictionary they don’t understand in a dictionary. The theory behind this is good, a wide vocabulary is key to getting a good score in the IELTS test, but worrying about all the words you don’t understand in the reading exam is one of the worst things you can do.
If you don’t understand a word in the reading test there are two things you can do. You can look at the words and sentences around it for clues as to its meaning or you can move on and forget about it. You don’t have to understand the meaning of every word. Even native speakers- and many IELTS teachers- would not be able to understand all the words in the reading test.
Candidates who worry about the meaning of every word, panic and spend too much time thinking about words that might not be related to the question. Focus on the words that are related to the question and don’t worry about the words you don’t understand.
2️⃣ Practice your reading skills NOT your IELTS skills
It is important to familiarise yourself with the IELTS reading test, IELTS reading tips and gain an understanding of the various questions. It is also important to learn from your mistakes (see below). However, students who just practice IELTS exams are missing out on a good opportunity to improve their general reading skills.
IELTS reading texts can be a little boring and you are more likely to read regularly if you read about something you are interested in. Reading for pleasure a little every day will not only improve your English skills, but also improve your vocabulary. There are thousands of blogs, newspapers, magazines and newspapers to choose from online. Practice makes perfect.
3️⃣ Read the instructions VERY carefully
So many easy marks are lost by good IELTS candidates because they fail to read the instructions properly. This is especially true in the reading and listening tests because they give very specific instructions. If you don’t follow these instructions exactly, you will get the question wrong.
For example, the instructions might state ‘write two words and/or a number’. This could mean:
One word and a number
Two words and a number
Even if a number is written as a word it counts as a number e.g. Thirty two is counted as 32. ‘Thirty two cars’ is one word and a number. If you don’t do this, as stated in the instructions, you will lose a mark.
If the answer asks for two words only and the answer is red and yellow, you should write ‘red, yellow’, not ‘red and yellow’. Red, yellow is two words. Red and yellow is three and therefore incorrect.
Finally, one word only means just one word. We should therefore be very careful with articles like ‘a’ and ‘an’. For example, the text might say ‘an earthquake’, but if it asks for one word simply write ‘earthquake’. ‘An earthquake’ is two words and is therefore wrong.
4️⃣ Don’t panic
Some of the questions will be easy and some will be extremely difficult. The key is not to panic when trying to answer a difficult one. Nearly all of the IELTS teachers I know have to check the answers to some questions because they are so difficult.
The wrong thing to do is spend a large amount of time on a question and fail to spend enough time on the rest of the questions. If the answer does not present itself, move on to the next. You can always come back to the difficult questions later and answering the other questions will often help you.
Time and nerves need to be controlled in order to do well in the reading test all the IELTS reading tips in the world won’t help you if you can’t control your nerves. You are probably not going to get all of the questions correct and accepting this will help you to control your time and emotions on test day.