IELTS Reading Tips (SIMON Tip)
IELTS Reading: false or not given?
Students are often confused by the difference between ‘false’ and ‘not given’.
You should choose false if the information in the passage directly contradicts the question statement; in other words, you need to be able to show that a different answer would be true. Choose not given only when there is no information, or not enough information.
One type of question asks you to “match the names with a statement”. You will see a list of people’s names (often researchers or experts) and you have to match each name with a statement about what he/she did or said.
Here’s some advice for this type of question:
1. Find all of the names in the passage first. Scan the whole passage quickly (don’t read it, just search for the names) and underline all the names that the question asks you about.
2. Remember that academic articles often only use surnames. For example, if one of the names is Robert Smith, you might not see the first name ‘Robert’ in the passage. Just look for the surname ‘Smith’.
3. Do difficult questions last. If one name is mentioned 3 times in 3 different paragraphs, it will be more difficult to match with a statement than a name that is only mentioned once. Start with the name that is only mentioned once.
4. When you find a match, put a cross next to the statement; you will only use each statement once.
5. As usual, look for “keywords” – words in the passage that are similar to words in the question statements.
IELTS Reading: easy questions first
A good technique for the IELTS reading test is to do easy questions first. If you get stuck on difficult questions, miss them. Do the easy questions, then return to the tricky questions later.
What’s the easiest type of question?
The easiest type of question is probably any question that contains a name, number or date. For these questions, it should be easy to scan the text to find where the answer is.
If you find it difficult to get started in the exam, look for a question with a name, number or date, and start there. An easy question will help you to start confidently.
IELTS Reading: skimming and scanning?
Many teachers and books talk about skimming and scanning as key techniques for IELTS reading.
I have stopped using the words ‘skimming’ and ‘scanning’ in my lessons because I find that they confuse students. In fact, many students get the wrong answers because they ‘skim’ too quickly and miss the words that they are looking for.
So, forget ‘skimming’ and ‘scanning’ and focus on ‘finding’ and ‘understanding’.
1. Finding: read the text to find words from the question.
2. Understanding: when you have found some key words from the question, read that part of the text carefully in order to understand it and get the right answer.
1. Should you read the whole passage before looking at the questions?
2. Should you go to the questions first, then skim/scan to find the answers?
My answer to question 1 is no. You don’t have time to read the whole passage unless your English is almost ‘native speaker’ level.
My answer to question 2 is yes and no.
Yes – go to the questions first.
No – don’t skim or scan unless the question contains a name or number.
My advice is to do the questions one by one. Instead of skimming or scanning, read the passage carefully. The answers to most question sections will be in order in the passage, so you will gradually read the whole passage as you find the answers.
IELTS Reading: finding and understanding
ELTS reading is really a test of 2 things:
1. Can you find the part of the text that contains the answer?
2. Do you understand that part of the text?
You need to be able to find the right part of the text quickly. I practise this a lot with my students: we decide which words in the question we need to search for, then we try to locate those words (or words with the same meaning) in the text.
When you have found where the answer is, you need to read that part of the text carefully. Read the sentences before and after the keywords that you found. Then it becomes a test of your vocabulary knowledge: if you don’t understand the words that you are reading, it will be difficult to get the right answer.