Many students struggle to find the correct answers during the IELTS reading exam. This is mainly because you have to work very fast and concentrate on reading and understanding a challenging bit of text written in their second and sometimes third language. A great deal of focus is required to find the right answers to many questions. In this article, you will find some useful strategies to help you find the answers to IELTS reading passages much faster. These strategies are useful for both the IELTS academic reading and the general training reading test
Skimming is a pre-reading activity that involves quickly going through an entire passage just to get a general feel for the passage.
We skim by basically locating the main idea of each paragraph. These main ideas are usually found in the first two sentences of a paragraph. We use these main ideas to understand what the entire paragraph is about. We then go through the rest of the paragraph without reading detail. During this process, we also take note of important words or phrases within the paragraph, like names or numbers. This gives us a general idea about where certain information should be (or could be) located in case we need to find a piece of information for one of the reading tests questions.
2. Analysing The Question
Each IELTS question type is slightly different, so you’ll have to vary your approach in some ways for each new set of questions. Before you start answering, it’s important to determine which type of question is given, so that you can use the correct strategy to solve it. Take note of any headings or subheadings that are present. Headings or titles give a general idea about an entire passage, which is useful for certain types of question that ask for the writer’s opinions or view, such as global MCQ or yes, no, not given questions. Subheadings are useful because they give the reader a general idea about where certain information can be found.
It is also crucial to figure out which type of answer that is needed. Some questions require answers in the form of letters, while others require words and/or numbers. You can also use the words and phrases within a question to determine the type of answer you have to search for within the passage. Different question types require different information. Some questions need a word like a place, name, a number etc. while some questions require information like the writer’s viewpoint or the opinion of someone else that is mentioned in the text.
3. Keyword Identification
After we have skimmed through the text, we then take a look at the questions that relate to it. When analysing the questions it’s important to take note of important keywords. Keywords are words that match information between the text and the question. They are usually words like verbs or nouns. Unique words like the names of people or places or scientific terminology are almost always keywords. Keywords help us quickly match our questions to the correct/relevant spot in a passage where that particular answer might be found but they might not always be mentioned in exactly the same way. For example, a question might ask about staff policies, but the text might not use the word staff. The word staff might be mentioned as employees or workers instead.
The last useful strategy that we will discuss is called Scanning. Once we have our question keywords, we need to match them to the text in order to find our answer. We also need to be aware of the type of information we are looking for in an answer.
Scanning starts when we return to the passage after reading the questions and have already found our question key words. We use it when we know what we are searching for (similar to finding a word in a dictionary).
Since we have already skimmed for a general understanding of the text, we should have a good idea about where certain information should be. We then have to match our chosen keywords to the relevant spot in the text. Once we have successfully done so, the answer to that particular question is usually found nearby in that part of the test. We then read that specific paragraph in detail to find proof or justification for our answers. However, it important to read on a bit further just in case there are any words that contradict the given statement
There are different methods of scanning to find specific details, these include:
Method 1: use your finger to drift over each line from right to left without reading in detail. You will merely be looking for the important keywords that were mentioned for that particular question. over each line looking for the keyword. You don’t do it over the whole passage only for the paragraph in which you think your answer might be located
Method 2: Put your finger in the middle of the line. Move your finger straight down the middle of the paragraph. Let your eyes drift from right to left and left to right.
Try practising both ways to see which method suits you best.