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Tips for improving your IELTS reading score

Many students ask me how they can improve their reading test score. In today’s blog, I will look at how you can improve your IELTS reading score.

Academic or General?

Firstly, it is important to remember that the IELTS general and IELTS academic tests are different. Make sure that when you do practice papers you are taking the correct test. The skills required in both tests and the style of questions are both the same and the time limit of 60 minutes, as well as the number of questions (40), are also the same.

What are the question types?

There are around 14 different question types and you will need to develop strategies to answer each one. By developing different strategies you will not only be more confident going into the exam but you will also be able to save time on test day. Some of the question types are:

· Sentence completion

· Summary, note, table, flow-chart completion

· Short-answer questions

· Diagram label completion

· Multiple choice

· Matching information

· Matching headings

· Matching sentence endings

· True, false, not given

It’s important to develop your strategies but it’s more important to develop your reading skills.

Students who just complete practice tests usually do not improve their overall score. This is because they are not actually improving their reading skills. Try to read something every day. This will improve your reading and also work on your vocabulary.

It’s a reading test but vocabulary is key.

Of course the more vocabulary you know the easier the test will be. In the test, you will need to be able to understand paraphrasing and synonyms as the test will be full of them. For more information about building your vocabulary, you can check out our previous blog:

Don’t expect to understand every word.

You won’t understand every word in the test. This is something you should know and accept. When you come across a word you don’t understand in the test you have two options. The first option is to look at the word within the whole sentence and try to understand the meaning from the context. The second option is to just move on. Both options are far better than staring at a word for several minutes. Looking at a word for a long time will just waste time and not actually help you answer the question.

Skimming and Scanning.

Both of these skills are vital for success in the test. For a more detailed look at these skills check out our previous blog:

Learn from your mistakes.

Make sure when you complete reading exercises or reading tests you make a note of the questions you get wrong. This will help you build a picture of the types of questions you are getting wrong and allow you to focus on these. Also, by looking at the questions you got wrong you will have the opportunity to come across new vocabulary and also see ways in which the examiners use distractors or synonyms to hide the answers.

AND Finally…. Don’t panic

Some questions will be easier than others. When you come across a more difficult question it is vital that you don’t panic. Relax, take a deep breath and give it a go. If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to move on to another question and come back to the question later.

If you need any further help or you would like to get strategies for the different question types, don’t hesitate to get in touch:

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