Need some tips for IELTS Reading?
Many test candidates find that they run out of time when completing the test. This page will help you!
For a broader introduction to the Reading test – and an introduction to the three skills you need, click here.
How To Find The Answers – All the IELTS Reading Tips You Need
What’s the most important skill? Knowing where to find the answers!
IELTS has two main categories of reading question – questions in text order, and questions which are NOT.
We have divided the question types into those two categories below…
1: IELTS Reading Tips For Text Order Questions
The answers to these types of questions appear in text order. That means the answer for number 3 will come after the answer for number 1, and the answer for number 2 will appear between them.
This type of question tests your understanding of the whole text. You will find the answers spread throughout the reading – starting close to the beginning and finishing close to the end.
Readings with two types of text order questions will both cover half the text with a little overlap.
Skimming and scanning skills will also help you to locate the answer.
The following question types have answers which always appear in text order…
Multiple Choice – One Correct Answer
This question type requires you to choose a correct answer from four alternatives (A, B, C or D).
You can locate the answer by remembering that the first answer will likely appear at the beginning of the text. With readings that have another text-order question type, the first answer may also appear halfway through the text.
Exam writers usually space answers evenly throughout the test.
True/False/Not Given: Identifying information
Candidates find this question type the most difficult – especially the difference between False and Not Given.
Choose true when the text gives the same information. Choose false when it says the opposite.
Not Given confuses many because the text DOES contain some of the information in the question. However, it will only have part of the information you would need to make a full match.
Tip: When the text has no information about a question between the questions both before and after it – choose Not Given.
Tip 2: The answers will include at least one True, one False, and one Not Given answer – providing there are at least three questions.
Yes/No/Not Given: Identifying writer’s views/claims
These questions follow the same pattern as True/False/Not Given; except they connect with the writer’s opinion rather than facts.
Short Answer Questions: Sentence completion
This category of question also has answers which will appear one after the other in the text.
Candidates must complete sentences using words from the text. The words must come straight from the text – with the same form and spelling.
Take care to ensure that you don’t use more words than the instructions allow.
Answers will never include contracted words (e.g. don’t), and hyphenated words count as one word.
Matching Sentence Endings
This question type gives you the first half of a sentence. You must connect that half with the correct ending from a list of options. The list of options will always exceed the number of questions.
2: IELTS Reading Tips for Questions Not In Text Order
Most readings will have one set of questions with answers in text order. The answers for the additional question types do not have to appear in text order.
To succeed with non-text order questions, you must know where to look for the answers. Not knowing will cause you to run out of time.
Multiple Choice With More Than One Correct Answer
For multiple-answer multiple-choice questions, you will need to either choose two from 5 options, or three from 7.
The answers do not have to appear in text order. However, the answers will be found in one section of the text – often a section of between 1-3 paragraphs.
To find the correct place, you should read the question, identify the keywords, and then locate the relevant section of text. Since you have already skimmed the text, you should find the section quickly since you know the topic of each paragraph.
All you have to do now is read that section of the text in detail to find the answers.
The answers to this type of question never appear in text order.
You will know when the reading includes matching heading questions since each paragraph will have a letter next to it. The questions may also appear ahead of the Reading.
Since the heading contains the main idea of the paragraph, you should find matching information in the topic sentence of the paragraph.
This question type tests your ability to distinguish the main idea of a paragraph from its supporting ideas.
This question type is similar to matching headings, except you must look for supporting information rather than the main idea.
You will find many of the answers by scanning – the questions often contain numbers and capitalised words that support this approach.
Many of the answers can still be surmised by focusing on the topic sentences of a paragraph. However, you will look not for direct synonyms but related keywords.
This kind of question asks you to match statements or information to a list of options. For example, you may need to match the names of people to statements they have made.
Sometimes answers may be used more than once.
The options you must match often contain capital letters. As a result, you can often find the answers by scanning.
Summary Questions: Notes, Table, Flow-charts, Diagrams
The answers to these questions do not have to follow text order, but very often they are almost in text order. However, you should note that the answers sometimes appear in a very different order.
The answers to these kinds of questions always appear in one part of the text. To find the correct section, you should look at the introduction to the question, underline the keywords, and locate the paragraph/s which contain the same topic.
Providing you skimmed the reading before tackling the questions, you will have no problems finding the section of text you need.
Put Your IELTS Reading Tips Into Practice!
Now all you need to do is practice! The Cambridge series of old exam papers will provide you with the best practice you can get.