10 tips to improve your IELTS Reading score Before we begin to improve, we must know where we stand. Let us begin by taking a mock test after you have read this article. In the reading section, you will be tested on your reading comprehension which means grasping power or understanding of the written word.

There will be 3 sections with different articles with each article designed to test your knowledge on various reading skills. Each passage can be anywhere between 500 to 700 words. Whether it is to gauge the general idea of a passage or follow the flow of an argument, you may expect to dedicate 60 minutes to the reading section. Here are some quick tips to help you cover all bases as you sit down to crack the code.

1. Read the right stuff: Read articles leaning towards scientific analysis or observations by academicians of current issues. You may expect topics like the latest applications of artificial intelligence or development of waste management systems in the UK. What you may not expect is page 3 details or movie plots. While they are arguably entertaining, they are not relevant.

2. Identify the flow and genre of the passages: Each passage is picked so that the exam questions can be framed around them. Recognise which of your skills the passage was picked to test you on. The sections will generally increase in their complexity as you progress through the test.

3. Find keywords in the questions: Before you start reading the passages, make it a point to look at the questions so that when you start reading the passage you are aware of the keywords to look out for. For example, if the question is about the role of clouds in our ecosystem, you should probably look for the obvious (in this case ‘clouds’ if it wasn’t clear enough)

4. Strategize: As you start practicing with mock tests you will start identifying your weaknesses and strengths. Give sections you struggle with more attention and time during the test to make sure you are able to answer all within the stipulated time. You will also realise how to skim through the passages to locate the right answers quickly.

5. Use a stopwatch to time your breaks: Since the test requires you to focus on answering the questions within 60 minutes, we suggest that you time your breaks and also increase your attention span. This can only happen with the help of a stopwatch and you being honest with timing yourself.

6. Read the instructions very carefully: The instructions in IELTS have details like how many words you can use to answer the question. If you have to answer within 3 words then you have to find a way to answer the question within the limit while staying grammatically correct even if the correct answer is 4 words. These small mistakes can cause deductions.

7. Get used to complex: The reading passages, especially for the academic section can feature articles which discuss topics out of your comfort zone. This usually puts one in a place of discomfort. To avoid this, refer to the BBC or the Guardian for complex reading.

8. Exercise your vocabulary: Building your vocabulary will not only help you in all sections of the IELTS but also score a band 9 in the reading section as there are tricky sections that paraphrase information. For example, matching information and matching titles will not include information as it is written in the passage, it will be paraphrased to a large extent. Understand that you cannot ace this test without having a solid foundation one of which is a good vocabulary.

9. Build confidence: This might sound irrelevant as a piece of advice but we tell you why it is important. There will be a lot of tricky questions with multiple answers that are similar to each other. If you start questioning your choice, it can lead to a minor panic attack as each option is questionable. Stick to the one you feel confident about and move on.

10. The 10-day trick: If you are already in a band between 6 or 7.5, make sure you dedicate 10 days of practice minimum to decoding this section. Split your time in understanding underlying patterns in the test.

For more such IELTS exam tips, visit IELTS NINJA

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