The Reading examination is the second part of the written aspect of the International English Language Test System (IELTS). It has three (3) sections of increasing difficulty and 40 questions that are of multiple types. Academic and General Training Modules differ when it comes to the Reading Test. GT Reading may look easier, because the reading materials are simply everyday stuff – posters, instructional manuals, and the like. However, Academic and GT Reading have the same question type and you need a higher score in GT Reading to achieve the same band as in Academic Reading.
The Reading Exam is said to be one of the more difficult parts of the IELTS. I believed this once myself, when I took the test. However, having worked in the IELTS exam prep industry for years, I found out something that bears sharing – the Reading Exam is not difficult; it is tricky.
Here are some tips that may help you if you’re stuck in a rut in the Reading Exam.
- Read the questions first. The Reading Test is essentially answered by looking for answers, but how will you know what to look for? Look at the questions first so you will save time. If you read the article first, you might have already read the answer but not know that it is what you need.
- Try and perfect the first two the sections. Sections 1 and 2 in the test are the easiest and would thus more likely yield points for the test taker. Perfecting these sections would mean less pressure in getting points from the last section, which is the most difficult.
- Invest on quality review materials for the Reading Test. This is especially important because the IELTS Reading Exam is 50% language skills and 50% techniques. A close approximation of the examination is very helpful especially when trying to figure out appropriate techniques for certain question types. However, these materials are quite expensive. Another option would be to enroll in review centers, where these materials are given for free.
- Practice, practice, practice. Since 50% of the examination is technique-based, practicing these techniques is essential to hitting that high band score. It would also do well to practice skills such as speed reading because in the reading examination, managing time is another problem most test takers encounter.
- Never assume. The Reading Examination text gives you all you need to answer all 40 questions. The main mistake of many test takers is that they go beyond what is written and give answers based on their own assumptions. This is why they make mistakes. When taking the reading examination, always ask yourself if your answer can be supported by the passage. If not, your answer is most likely wrong.
Have the right attitude. The exam can be infuriating and progress to hitting that you need may be slow. This is normal, especially in the beginning of the training when you are still learning the ropes and trying to understand how to best attack the exam. Be disciplined in your preparation and be patient with yourself. Find yourself a teacher if you feel you really need more help.