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IELTS Reading Tips

In: IELTS By: Pradipto Chatterjee

Many IELTS aspirants find this section difficult; even those who are good in English. Though there is no magic wand, there are few things that one can do which would help him to score better. However, it is important to remember that everybody has a different style and no rule can be applied universally.


Some students find it easier, if they read the questions before reading the passage. The advantage in this method is that you can match the questions with the relevant parts of the passage. But, when you read the questions first, you don’t read the passage; you search for the answers while reading the passage. Thus you might miss out on important information. IELTS plays with every small information and synonyms. But if it works for you, go ahead and do it.


The better way is to read the passage thoroughly before going to the questions. This helps you to answer the T / F / NG questions more easily. There should be an effort to not to go back to the passage again and again. It is also advisable to write a two or three words summary of each paragraph, next to the paragraph. This helps to answer the ‘headlines’ type of questions. Underlining key words also helps.


Time management is key to succeed in IELTS. Generally the last section is longer and comparatively more difficult than the other two sections. Some students prefer to complete this section first. This does not necessarily help you to manage time better. It would be more appropriate to allot a time for each section. 1st section – 15 mins., 2nd section – 15 mins. and 3rd section – 20 mins. This still leaves you 10 mins to recheck. Do not get bogged down on any particular question. If you can’t find answer to a question, put a dash against it in the answer paper and move on. You can always use the last ten minutes to come back to it.


Regarding the ‘headlines’ type of questions, it is important to note that, the best answer might not be in the given options. One needs to pick the best of the available options. Yet, it’s better to predict the answer before looking at the options. It makes picking the right choice easier.


How to answer the T / F / NG questions ? The problem is usually between False & Not Given, True statements are easier to spot. Answers are generally logical. But if logic fails, you can use an elimination method. Remember, the answer has to be derived from the information given. Do not assume anything and don’t use your general knowledge. Let’s take a couple of examples:


Passage : Kolkata port is one of the largest port in the country.
Statement : Kolkata port is the largest port in the country.


T / F / NG ?

The passage says, “one of the largest”, it means that there are few large ports of which Kolkata port is one of them. But whether it’s the number one port or not, we don’t know.


The statement says, “the largest.” Maybe, maybe not, we don’t know. The answer is “Not Given”.


The other way of doing this is, first, see if the passage and the statement is saying the same thing. If it is saying the same thing then the answer is True. You don’t need to see beyond. In this case, they are not saying the same thing, then it leaves False and Not Given.


If the statement contradicts the passage i.e. if the statement had said that the “Kolkata port is a small port”, then it would have contradicted the passage. In that case, the answer would have been False. If not True and not False then it’s Not Given.


Let’s look at another example.

P : Chilies were first grown in India.
S : Indians were the first to eat chilies.


If “chilies were first grown in India”, it does not automatically mean that the “Indians were the first to eat chilies,” even though it might look logical. The answer is Not Given.

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