Reading is one of the four essential elements of English. IELTS Test candidates’ competencies are tested in all of the four elements: listening, reading, writing, and speaking but arguably IELTS reading is the one that is most difficult to master.
Master reading and IELTS students will do well in the rest of the test.
In the IELTS Test the three-section IELTS reading task demands a high comprehension level and a broad vocabulary foundation.
We all learn best by doing – and reading is no exception. Prior to taking the test, IELTS candidates need to develop skills to improve their comprehension – and for quick comprehension – and should engage in a wide range of reading activities: using books, magazines, journals, newspapers or any other materials that employ good English.
During the IELTS Test preparation period, reading in English should become a habit to every candidate. In the actual IELTS exam the examiner is seeking assurance that applicants have established a good foundation in the English language.
Reading intelligently is the key to success in the IELTS Reading Tasks.
7 Steps to better IELTS Reading
This short tutorial is designed to get you up and running with the basics of reading for the IELTS Reading test in eight easy lessons.
- Understanding what is in the IELTS Reading Test
- Paraphrasing is the key to success in the IELTS Reading Test
- Skimming and Scanning gives more time to answer IELTS Reading Test Questions
- Context clues help students understand unfamiliar words
- Synonyms increase comprehension
- How to prepare for the IELTS Reading Test
- What IELTS Reading Skills are needed
What is in the IELTS Reading Test?
The IELTS Reading Test lasts for one hour and contains three readings of gradually increasing difficulty.
There are a total of 40 questions asked after the test – approximately 13 for each task within the IELTS Reading Test. (The precise number varies from exam to exam).
To read and understand both the questions and the readings, and then to respond correctly to the questions requires fast reading. This also shows a high degree of competence in written English comprehension.
Paraphrasing: The Most Important IELTS Reading Skill
When assessing a candidates’ level of comprehension examiners are looking for evidence of three sorts of understanding:
To get IELTS Band Score 8 or above a student needs to demonstrate a high level of competence in inference and deduction. These high level IELTS Reading skills are all about recognising related clues in the reading passage which are written in a different way to that of the question.
This is the essence of why paraphrasing is important.
A high skill level in paraphrasing directly leads to a high level of English comprehension in the IELTS Reading Test.
Skimming and Scanning aids quicker IELTS Reading
There is reading and there is IELTS Reading.
The thing with reading for the IELTS Test is that English is usually not the first language of the reader. This means that most IELTS Reading is slower than for a native speaker. So IELTS Test candidates must develop techniques to improve their speed of comprehension if they are to score higher band scores.
Skimming and Scanning are techniques aimed at improving reading speed – to allow the candidate more time to answer the question – with the right answer! For members of Your Pass IELTS Higher the online IELTS Reading lessons will set you on the path to faster reading.
Familiarising and Understanding Words through Context Clues
Most IELTS Test candidates appreciate and understand that IELTS Reading is a test of vocabulary.
Students of English rely on a good dictionary to look up words and phrases. In the IELTS Test, since dictionaries are not allowed, context clueing provides alternative help.
Context clueing is the art of knowing a term based on what terms, phrases, or sentences come before and after it.
However, effective context clueing involves more than this simplistic approach. Good practitioners use innate knowledge, especially a good vocabulary, to improve their style and speed of reading. Most importantly effective users of context clueing develop a familiarity of the method, polished through time and constant practise.
Enriching Vocabulary through Synonyms
Many ideas for writing are similar and just expressed in different ways. Literary writers though, do not arbitrarily pick a word just for the purpose of achieving variety in the text. They pick a word which succinctly, if not perfectly, captures the essence of what they are trying to express.
IELTS students must learn to appreciate that, although synonyms are not 100% similar to the root word, they are nonetheless important for building vocabulary using one of the most effective methods of learning – association.
In IELTS, words and expressions are often expressed differently in the reading passages and in the sets of questions.
Preparation for the IELTS Reading Test
Most people can read. Students of IELTS English have to be able to read well – and quickly. To become truly proficient and reach high IELTS Band Scores, students need to invest time and energy in studying the craft – yes, a craft is what it is!
All the best practitioners of English – native speakers or non-native speakers – have honed their skills by practice. We have employed some of the best English teachers, examiners and exponents of the English language at www.passieltshigher.com to develop online IELTS Reading lessons that will get students on the road to success in the IELTS Reading Test.
What IELTS Reading Skills do you need?
In the members only section of www.passieltshigher.com, called Your Pass IELTS Higher, there are online lessons for IELTS Reading which together comprise an IELTS Reading course where 10 essential skills are extensively covered.
Short lectures, demonstrations, activities, and answers with explanations are found in each lesson and the following skills are taught:
- Identifying the main idea through keywords and paraphrasing
- Determining Topic Sentences and Paraphrases
- Understanding unfamiliar words/phrases using context clues
- Grammar: sentence structure and pattern
- Grammar: word classification and collocation
- Finding and understanding recurring words
- Understanding the introductory paragraph: thesis statement Understanding the body: topic sentence; major and minor supporting sentences
- Understanding the concluding paragraph
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