8 COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY IELTS TEST TAKERS IN READING SECTION


Have you ever imagined getting a C2 level reading that consists of unimaginable number of pages with some fancy words and technical terms like something out of no where? Besides, you have to answer 40 questions in 60 minutes and deal with different types of barrier such as boredom and exhaustion? I’m not here to make a judgement on your reading skill or English proficiency, but I’ve been doing some exercise on Reading and I my self have made dozens of mistake ranging from the most common one to the most ridiculous one. So the question is, how could that be possible that some folks out there manage to do the reading section with less effort and still get band score of at least 7.0? One of many possible answers is that they did not make the same mistake as we, or I, specifically, did. If you think that the key answers for success in Reading section are having keen eyes, effective reading, and brilliant mind, you are wrong, or perhaps, partly wrong. The thing that you need the most is actually a strategy and proper application of that strategy.



First thing first. Whenever you have a passage, the first thing that you have to do is to read the instruction. For example, you may be able to write down three words, two words, or one word. Whether you realize it or not, this rule actually has helped you narrow the scope of information searching. Because when you have only one word to write, you do not need to bother with long combination of Adj+N or Prep+N or Prep+NP. Just find that word you need in the passage. And for you who know about the Word Classes, you can safely make a conclusion that the answer will most likely be content words such as N, V, Adj, Adv, or some modified form of these four.




Second, you don’t need to read the entire passage and you, definitely, do not have to be familiar with the topic of the passage and do not need to know the meaning of each word in that passage. This is the most common mistake made by those having the first trial. Some of my students kept complaining about getting some fancy topics such as psychology, technology, or social science, without realizing the fact that they don’t necessarily be a psychologist, expert in technology, or sociologist to pass the IELTS test. I myself do not want to be bothered with the topic and obviously have no intention to memorize all the words, especially the technical terms.




Third, you need to check the question and find at least two keywords to narrow scope of searching in the passage. Look for content words, look for numbers because they are very apparent, look for proper name that has capital letters, and look for the words without which a statement can never make any sense to the reader.




Fourth, find the paraphrase of the keywords in the passage. In IELTS, you cannot hope to pass the test without having a good sense of paraphrasing. The ugly truth is the fact that you need to read a lot to broaden your vocabulary. There is no formula for this and I definitely can’t help you with this. Try to read wide range of passage and try to memorize the most essential and reappearing words you find. There are two rules you need to follow very closely when learning language.


1. You can never be a good speaker without being a good listener
2. you cannot be a good writer without being a good reader



This is a fact I cannot deny so I try to get used to it and give my best shot to master all aspects necessary for mastering language




Fifth, both the passage and the questions must have logical order. If you are answering question number 1, it would be very logical that you’ll find the answer in paragraph one or two, and not the others. If you are answering question number 2, then perhaps you will find the answer in paragraph two or three. You do not need to read the whole passage. Don’t you ever try to re-read back and forth twice, three times, or worst, many times. Just read the paragraph that most likely contain the information you need.




Sixth, finding the main idea of a paragraph. Did I just say that you do not need to read the whole passage? Well, you don’t even read the whole paragraph. There are t
hree common possible place you will find an answer for the question.


1. At the beginning of the paragraph
2. At the end of the paragraph
3. In the entire paragraph or in the middle of a paragraph, which is the worst possibility and not quite likely to happen



Seventh, be careful when distinguishing False and Not Given or No and Not Given. If you find an information in the passage and it happens to be wrong, it is False. If you cannot find any relevant information in the passage, it has to be Not Given.




Last, do some predictions. There are two of them, actually.


1. Grammatical prediction. Let’s say, when you have an Adj at the end of a statement, the most plausible answer for that question is either a N or a NP. You can focus on that two possibilities, depends on how many words you are supposed to write.
2. Contextual prediction. If the topic of the passage is quite familiar to you, you can try to understand what is being discussed in the passage and answer based on your understanding of the passage. However, this is actually a rare case, especially when you are not an omnipotent-type-of-person



-Ross

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