For some, there’s nothing better than reading. Be it a new copy of The New Yorker or a paperback copy of an Elmore Leonard thriller, reading can provide infinite amounts of pleasure. For others, reading is an arduous task, where absorbing information via the written word is a difficult process.
If you fall into the latter camp or are just having certain reading troubles in English, the IELTS reading test seems like an impossible task to succeed at. You might think that it’s just too much reading to handle and has too many complex questions.
But there are a number of strategies and tips that can help you to succeed on the IELTS reading exam. No matter what your existing reading skills are, these IELTS reading tips are comprehensive and helpful.
Know Which Test You’re Taking
It’s imperative that you take the IELTS test that’s related to your ambitions. There’s the academic IELTS test and the general IELTS test. Academic is related to university study, whereas general is more for on-the-job English. The reading tests for each are different, and therefore the preparation for each is different. Academic will consist of more scholarly article excerpts, while general will be more bulletins or flyer content. Make sure you determine which one you are going to take and prepare accordingly.
Do Outside Preparation
Even if you don’t like reading, you can never do enough of it outside of the actual test. Both the general and academic IELTS reading tests are three portions, and can have surprising content included in them. Once you nail down whether you’re taking general or academic IELTS, you can get ready by reading from the right sources. Magazines, newspaper columns, academic journals, storybooks, even comics or joke books—every little bit helps. You can begin to note syntax or structures, and how they are applied.
Learn Strategic Reading
There’s a little known secret about IELTS reading: you don’t have enough time to complete it! Well, maybe you can. But at only an hour in length, it’s really hard to complete effectively in the time you have. Therefore, one of the IELTS reading tips teachers and invigilators suggest is to learn strategic reading to help speed yourself up. This involves skimming, scanning, and being able to read through a text quickly to pull out key points effectively. This can take some time but it’s a good talent to develop before you actually take the test.
Get Time Management Skills
Related to strategic reading, learning time management skills is also invaluable. If you’ve only got less than twenty minutes for three reading sections, you should understand what pace you need to take to make sure you answer them all to the best of your abilities. While it’s not good to take too much time, it’s equally important to not go too quickly. Time management can anchor you into the right personal reading-and-answer speed you need to have.
Get into Preparation Class
IELTS reading test preparation classes can only be an asset to any IELTS test-taker. A good reading teacher can walk students through the aforementioned intricacies of both types of IELTS reading tests. They will be able to show you how to succeed based on your own abilities, while helping you to improve in specific areas. You will also get sample tests so you know what to expect on the day you actually sit the test.
If you’re struggling with your own IELTS reading skills or are looking for a class to get some help in IELTS reading, be sure to see both The Language Gallery’s IELTS Preparation class and IELTS Exam Preparation elective. You can get help with your IELTS reading skills, along with other IELTS skills development.
Special thanks to TLG Toronto IELTS instructor Melinda for her assistance on the content of this post!