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IELTS Reading

IELTS Reading Question Types


There are several different types of questions on the IELTS reading test and each one has its own
problems and strategy.

Short Answer Multiple Choice Summary Matching Sentence


Questions Completion Sentence Endings Completion
True, False, Not Matching Labeling a Matching Names Matching
Given Headings Diagram Information to
Paragraphs

IELTS Reading- Short Answer Questions

Short Answer Questions

These questions are often called ‘comprehension’ questions and they are very common in English
classrooms all over the world. Most students have answered these kinds of questions before and for
this reason most students tend to do quite well with them.

Despite this there are some common problems that cause students to make mistakes and throw
away marks.

Short Answer Example


Common Problems Skills Tested Tips Strategy
1. Synonyms and 1. Ability to skim 1. The answers 1. Read the
paraphrasing are the passage appear in the instructions
the biggest quickly and same order as carefully and
problem. understand the the text. note the word
Students who overall meaning. 2. Look at and limit.
are unaware of 2. Ability to scan understand the 2. Read and
these tend to for specific questions first understand the
look for information. before you start questions. Think
keywords in the 3. Understand the reading the text. about the
text that directly question being What is the information you
match those in asked. question actually will need to find.
the questions. 4. Identify asking? 3. Underline any
This wastes lots keywords. 3. You will keywords in the
of time and good 5. Think of possible probably be questions.
time synonyms and given a word 4. Think about
management is paraphrases of limit, for synonyms or
essential in the keywords. example ‘NO paraphrases for
reading test. MORE THAN these keywords.
2. Word limit can THREE WORDS 5. Find part of the
also cause AND/OR A text question 1
people to throw NUMBER.’ Make relates to.
away easy sure you don’t 6. Read question
marks. If you go over this again.
write over the limit. 7. Read the section
stated word limit 4. As stated above, containing the
you will get the the answers do answer carefully
answer wrong. not need to be and identify
3. You don’t have grammatically answer.
to read every correct, just 8. Continue with
word of the text. short answers. next question
These questions 5. Don’t give your and repeat until
test your ability opinion, just the finished.
to skim and scan answer in the
for specific text.
information. You 6. Keywords in the
also won’t have question will
time to read normally be
every word. nouns or noun
4. Students often phrases.
see a word they 7. When you find
don’t your keywords
understand in always think
the question or synonyms and
text and either paraphrases.
panic or spend
too much time
thinking about
the meaning.
5. Some students
try to write full
sentences. Your
answers don’t
have to be
grammatically
correct, so stay
under the word
limit.
IELTS Reading- Multiple Choice Questions

Example Questions
There are three different types of MCQ The first option is the most common.
question. You will either have to: You may also have two different question
forms. Either:
1. choose one answer out of four options
2. choose two answers out of five options 1. completing a sentence or
3. choose three answers out of six options 2. answering a question.
Here is an example from the academic test:

In this example you have to choose one answer from four possible options and the question requires
you to complete the sentences.

Here is an example from the general paper:


Reading Skills Common Problems Top 10 Tips Strategy
MCQs test your ability Reading the text 1. Read the This is my suggested
to understand the before the questions– questions before strategy. There are
main ideas contained If you do this you are you read the many different
in a text and then look reading ‘blind’ because text. strategies and you
for specific you are not sure what 2. You will often be should use the one you
information. you are looking for. able to eliminate feel comfortable with.
You will need to You also waste time 2 of the four You can also adapt this
quickly identify the because you will have answers and this strategy to what suits
main idea in order to to read the questions leaves you with you.
locate the correct and then read the text two choices. 1. Read the
section of the text. again, so you have just Think about the questions
When you do this it wasted your time on difference in carefully.
will seem like two or the first reading. meaning 2. Skim the text to
three of the options Not answering between these get the general
could be the correct questions– This seems two choices and meaning.
answer and you like an obvious one but this will help you 3. Underline
therefore must read in it would shock you get the correct any keywords in
much more detail to how many people answers. the question and
find the specific don’t answer the 3. If you are unsure think about any
information that gives question at all. of what the synonyms that
you the correct Being tricked by the difference is might appear in
answer. examiner– examiners between two or the text.
love to try and trick three sentences, 4. Read the choices
you with ‘distractors’. it can help to and underline
Distractors are things rephrase them in any
that look like the your own words. keywords. Think
correct answer but are 4. If you are about the
actually incorrect. running out of difference in
When you locate the time or you meaning
correct section in the really don’t between the
reading text, there will know the difference
appear to be two or answer, have a choices.
three plausible correct guess. You will 5. Predict the
answers. A very not lose marks correct answer.
common trick is for wrong 6. Read the text
matching lots of answers and you and using
keywords from the have a 25% keywords and
question options to chance of synonyms locate
parts of the text. Just getting the the part
because there are lots correct answer containing the
of matching keywords just by guessing. answers.
doesn’t mean it is the 5. Don’t be tricked 7. Read that part of
correct answer. Also by the the text very
look at the context of examiner’s carefully,
the whole sentence ‘distractors’ thinking about
and any qualifying especially the difference in
words like most, all, keywords from meanings.
always, sometimes. the questions 8. Think about not
Not reading the whole that look the only which
sentence– The first same as the text. options are
part of a sentence 6. If you don’t correct but how
might look correct but know anything the other
the second half of it about the topic, options are
might change the don’t panic. It is wrong.
meaning. Words a reading test, 9. Go back and
like but and not a test of read the
however can change your knowledge. question again
the meaning of a 7. Try to predict and mark your
whole sentence. the correct final choice.
Examiners know you answer before
are trying to get the you read the
answers as quickly as text. This will
possible and will try to help you find the
trick you in this way. correct answer.
Not reading the text 8. Before deciding
carefully– Because on your answer,
there are so many always go back
‘distractors’, some of and carefully
the ‘correct’ answers read the
will appear to ‘jump questions before
out’ at you. If you making your
don’t read the text final decision.
carefully, you will 9. The answers will
choose the incorrect be in the same
answer. Take some order as the
time to really text.
understand the 10. You might be
meaning of each asked about
sentence. both facts
and opinions.
Facts are things
that are always
true or can not
be disproved but
opinions are just
what people
think.
IELTS Reading- Summary Completion

In these kinds of questions you will be given a summary of information from the text and there will
be some gaps in that summary.

You will either be given a list of words to fill the gaps with or asked to find the answers in the reading
text.

Your job is to insert some of the words from the list into the gaps, or if asked, to fill the gaps with
words from the text. .

There will be more words in the list than required to fill the gaps.

All of the information contained in the summary will also be contained in the reading text, but they
will use synonyms and paraphrasing, so don’t expect to see the same words.

This type of question tests your ability:

 to understand the general meaning of the summary


 to scan for the correct information in the text
 to be able to identify synonyms and paraphrases

Examples

Below is an example of a question that asks you to fill in the gaps with words from the reading text.

Below is another example, but this question is asking you to choose the correct answer from a list of
options. You should notice that there are more options than answers.
Common Problems Tips Strategy
This question does not expect you 1. Try to predict the answers This is my suggested strategy.
to have a detailed understanding before you look at the There are many different
of the text. Some students lose options or the text. This will strategies and you should use the
lots of time reading the whole text help you spot the correct one you feel comfortable with. You
and trying to understand answer. can also adapt this strategy to
everything. You don’t need to do 2. Should the gap be filled what suits you.
this, focus more on the summary with a verb, noun, adjective 1. Read the question carefully.
in the question. or adverb? If your answer Note how many words you
makes the sentence can write (normally one,
Some students read the summary grammatically wrong, then two or three) and if you
and then look for the exact same you have the wrong answer. should get the words from
words in the reading text. You are 3. Look for synonyms and the reading text or a list.
unlikely to find these because the paraphrases in the text 2. Skim the summary and try
examiners use synonyms and rather than words that to understand the overall
paraphrasing. directly match. meaning.
4. Don’t spend too much time 3. Try to predict the answers
A common mistake is to ignore looking for the answer to before you look at the
grammar rules when completing one question. If you can’t reading text. Also, think
the summary. If the sentence does find it, mark what you think about the word type (noun,
not make sense grammatically, it might be and move on. verb, adjective) that should
then you have the wrong answer. Focusing on the easier be included.
answers is a better use of 4. If you have a list of words,
The examiners also try to trick you your time. try to guess which 2 or 3 the
by putting a word from the text as 5. The answers normally come answer might be. Pay
one of the options. Some students in the same order as the attention to words that
recognise this and think this is the questions. collocate well with the
correct answer. It is probably 6. If you get a list of words, words in the sentence.
wrong because the answer will think about the ones that 5. Identify which part of the
normally be a synonym rather than can’t be the correct answer reading text the summary
a matching word. because of meaning or relates to. Scanning for
grammar. You can then synonyms from the
eliminate these words. summary will help you do
this.
6. Look at that part of the
section more carefully and
choose the correct answer.
Remember to be careful
with synonyms.
7. Check to see if your word
makes the
sentence grammatically
correct.
IELTS Reading- Matching Sentence Endings Tips and Strategy

In this IELTS reading question you will be given a list of incomplete sentences with no endings and
another list with possible endings. Your job is to match the incomplete sentences with the correct
ending based on the reading text.

This is not one the more common questions but should be studied all the same.

You are being tested on your understanding of how the ideas in the sentences are connected to the
main ideas in the reading text.
Example

As you can see above, there are a number of incomplete sentences and you must match them with
the correct endings. There will always be more options than you actually need.

In the exam there are normally 5-6 incomplete sentences and 8-9 optional endings.

Common Problems Tips Strategy


Lots of people think that they 1. The answers are in the This is my suggested strategy.
can answer these questions by same order in the text as There are many different
using logic and grammar and they are in the questions, strategies and you should use
they don’t look at the reading so the answer to the one you feel comfortable
text. They think this will save question 2 will be after with. You can also adapt this
them time and they can work the answer to question 1 strategy to what suits you.
out the answer quickly just by and so on. Locate 1. Read the question
looking at the answers and question one first and carefully.
matching the sentences that then you know where to 2. Read the incomplete
make the most sense. Don’t do begin. sentences first and don’t
this. It is a test of your 2. Try to predict how each look at the endings yet.
understanding of the reading sentence will end before Try to understand what
text more than a test of how you look at the endings. they mean and highlight
sentences generally go 3. Start with the incomplete any keywords especially
together. sentences first before names, places or dates.
you look at the endings 3. Predict what the endings
The examiner will try and trick or the text. There are might be before looking
you by connecting ideas in the more endings than at them. Think about
reading text to endings that are required, so looking at all what word type (verbs,
not the correct answer. of these in detail is a nouns, adjectives,
Remember that you are waste of time. adverbs) makes the
matching incomplete sentences 4. Think of synonyms and sentence grammatically
to endings, not endings to the paraphrases that the correct.
text. examiners could be using 4. Look at the endings but
instead of exactly the not in too much detail.
Many people look for the exact same words. Try to see if there are any
words contained in the 5. All of the sentence obvious answers.
question in the reading text. endings appear in the 5. Eliminate endings that
The examiners will probably text, but you don’t need definitely cannot match.
use synonyms and paraphrasing to read all of them, just Think about grammar,
instead of exactly the same the ones that you decide collocations and
words. Don’t waste your time to match with the meaning.
looking for words that exactly incomplete sentences. 6. Match the endings you
match with the text, instead 6. When highlighting think might be correct.
look for synonyms and keywords, it is often a Write two or
paraphrases. good idea to highlight three options if
any names, including necessary.
For a more detailed look at place names, or dates. 7. Find the correct part of
paraphrasing and synonyms These are often easy to the reading text for each
check out our post on sentence find in the reading text. incomplete sentence. Be
completions tips. 7. Don’t just match words. careful with synonyms
Make sure the meaning and paraphrases.
in the reading text 8. Understand the meaning
matches. of that part of the text
8. Spend more time on the and choose the correct
first question because answer.
this is the most difficult.
You have lots of different
options for the first
question and it will take
you more time to work
out the answer. The last
question should take you
much less time because
you have less options to
choose from.
IELTS Reading- Sentence Completion Tips and Strategy

In this kind of question you will be given a number of sentences with gaps in them and asked to
complete the sentences with words from the reading text.

These questions are as much vocabulary tests as they are reading tests because they require you to
be aware of paraphrasing (using different words to repeat a sentence so that it has the same
meaning) and synonyms (words with the same or very similar meanings).

Example Question

As you can see there are three incomplete sentences that we musty complete.

Note that it says NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer. This means that we
can write one or two words only. If we write any more than this, we get the question wrong.

Also note that it says ‘from the text’. This means that we can’t change the words from the text.

The word limit and whether we should use words from the text or not can change from question to
question so read them carefully.

Paraphrasing and Synonyms


In order to do well on the IELTS test you have to understand what paraphrasing and synonyms are
because Cambridge use them so much in the reading and listening tests and expect you to use them
in the writing and speaking tests.
Paraphrasing is simply rephrasing or saying the sentence again, so that it has the same meaning, but
with different words.

Example–
Most men drive cars to work.
The majority of males use automobiles to get to their jobs.
As you can see, both sentences mean exactly the same thing but I have used different words.
I have used mostly synonyms to do this, i.e. words with the same or similar meanings.

Examples–
most – majority
drive – use
cars – automobiles
work – job

Why is this important?


We have to understand how Cambridge actually make the IELTS reading tests in order to be
successful. The people who write the tests take a piece of writing and they then use paraphrasing
and synonyms to make many of the questions. Therefore if you don’t understand this, it is like
walking in the dark with no lights. Understand it and suddenly your world becomes brighter.

The table below shows just some examples from an IELTS reading paper. As you can see,
paraphrasing and synonyms are used in many of the questions and if you were looking for words
that exactly match those in the text you wouldn’t find them. Instead be aware that you are looking
for meaning; not words.

Common Problems Tips Strategy


As you have probably already 1. Check how many words it This is my suggested strategy.
guessed from the passage asks you to write. If it There are many different
above, the main problem is says ‘no more than two’, strategies and you should use
students trying to match words you can write one or two the one you feel comfortable
in the question with exactly the words. If it says ‘no more with. You can also adapt this
same words in the reading text. than three’, you can strategy to what suits you.
Instead you should be look for write one, two or three 1. Read the instructions
words that means the same words. Remember that carefully, noting how
thing i.e. paraphrases and numbers written many words you can
synonyms. numerically, such write and if they want
as 72 count as one word you to include the exact
Another common problem is and hyphenated words, words from the question
not reading the instructions such as state-of-the-art, or not.
properly and then writing too count as one word. 2. Read the incomplete
many words or not writing the 2. Sometimes the question sentences first. Think
same words as in the reading will state ‘using words about what word form
text, as discussed above. from the text’ or ‘from can be used and try to
the text’. In this case you predict the answer. Also
Finally, students often start should only use words think about keywords
reading the text before the from the text and not and how they could be
question. This is confusing for change them or use represented by synonyms
most people and wastes time. different forms of the or paraphrasing.
Read the questions first. words. If it does not say 3. Locate where the
this, then you are information is located by
allowed to change the scanning quickly. If you
words as long as the can’t locate the answer
meaning is the same. quickly, move on.
3. The answers appear in 4. Read the incomplete
the same order as the sentence again.
questions. The answer to 5. Study the reading text
number 1 will be above more carefully to
number 2, and the establish the answer.
answer to number 3 will 6. Check your spelling.
be below the answer to 7. Repeat with the other
number 2. sentences.
4. Remember that your
answer should be
grammatically correct.
Check the type of word
that fits in the space. Is it
a verb, noun, adjective or
adverb? This will help
you answer the question
correctly.
5. When scanning for your
answer, make sure you
are thinking about
paraphrasing and
synonyms.
6. Find where the answer is
located in the text before
you try to answer the
question.
Remember where before
what.
7. Read the questions
before reading the text.
IELTS Reading- True, False, Not Given Tips and Strategy

‘True, False, Not Given’ questions requires you to identify if information in a text is true or not.
You will be given a number of factual statements and you have to check in the text if they are true or
not.
This is probably the most difficult question on the reading paper.
In this article when I refer to ‘statements’ I am talking about the questions, not the text in the main
reading article.

Example True, False, Not Given Question


This sample is taken from ielts.org and more sample reading questions can be viewed here.

As you can see above, you will be given a number of factual statements and asked to look at the text
and decide if the statement is true, false or not given.

Common Problems Top 10 Tips True, False, Not Given Strategy


The biggest problem here is the 1. Ignore anything you This is my suggested strategy.
‘not given’ option. Most already know about the There are many different
students are not used to topic and don’t make strategies and you should use
answering questions like this assumptions. Base your the one you feel comfortable
and it causes them lots of answers on the text only. with. You can also adapt this
problems because they are not 2. Identify any words that strategy to what suits you.
sure what to look for. They also qualify the statement, for 1. Always read the
spend too much time making example some, all, instructions carefully and
sure that it is ‘not given’ and mainly, often, always and make sure you know if it
this affects the rest of their occasionally. These is a TRUE/FALSE/NOT
test. words are there to test if GIVEN or YES/NO/NOT
you have read the whole GIVEN question.
Students also fail to understand statement because they 2. Read all the statements
exactly what each statement can change the meaning. carefully, trying to
means and therefore cannot For example, ‘Coca-Cola understand what the
identify if it is true or false. has always made its whole sentence means
Many focus on keywords drinks in the U.S.A.’ has a rather than simply
instead of understanding what different meaning from highlighting keywords.
the statement as a ‘Coca-Cola Watch out for qualifying
whole means. has mainly made its words such as some or
drinks in the U.S.A.’ always.
Another common mistake is 3. Be careful when you see 3. Try to think of what
identifying keywords in the verbs that qualify synonyms might be in the
statements and then trying to statements, such text. This will help you
find words that exactly match as suggest, claim, believe identify the matching
them in the text. You can do and know. For example, part of the text.
this, but more often the words ‘The man claimed he was 4. Match the statement
will be synonyms. a British citizen,’ and ‘The with the correct part of
man is a British citizen’ the text.
Finally, some students fail to mean two different 5. Focus on the statement
understand exactly what true, things. again and then carefully
false and not given actually 4. There will be at least read the matching part of
mean and get confused. one of all three answers. the text to establish if it is
If you don’t have at least true or false. Remember
one ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘not the meaning should
given’ you have at least exactly match that of the
one answer wrong. statement if it is true.
5. Don’t skim and scan the 6. Underline the words that
text to find the final give you the answer, this
answer. You will have to will help you focus and
read the appropriate part you can check back later.
of the text very carefully Again, be careful there
in order to understand are no qualifying words
what the author means. in the text.
6. Don’t look for words that 7. If you can’t find the
exactly match those in answer, mark it as ‘not
the statements. You given’ and move on to
should also look for the next question.
synonyms. Remember 8. If you are really unsure or
that you are matching can’t find the answer,
meaning, not words. mark it as ‘not given’.
7. If you can’t find the
information you are
looking for, then it is
probably ‘not given’.
Don’t waste time looking
for something that is not
there.
8. If you have no idea what
the answer is put ‘not
given’. You probably have
no idea because the
answer is not there.
9. Answers are in the same
order they appear in the
text. Do not waste time
going back. Keep on
reading.
10. YES/NO/NOT GIVEN
questions are slightly
different because they
deal with opinion.
TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN
questions deal with facts.
What do TRUE, FALSE and NOT GIVEN mean?

The most important thing to remember is what the words ‘true’, ‘false’ and ‘not given’ actually
mean and therefore what IELTS wants you to write.

 If the text agrees with or confirms the information in the statement, the answer is TRUE
 If the text contradicts or is the opposite to the information in the statement, the answer
is FALSE
 If there is no information or it is impossible to know, the answer is NOT GIVEN

True means that the meaning is the same. It is just similar then it is FALSE. Remember that we are
dealing with factual information so there is no room to say it is similar or nearly the same.

Lots of students have argued with me during practice and said the statement is true because it ‘kind
of’ means the same. There is no ‘kind of’ with these questions, only facts.

Very important- Just because an answer is NOT GIVEN does not mean there are no words in the
statements that match words in the text. This is something that confuses people, if words match
then it must be TRUE or FALSE, right? Not really. This is not a good way to think about these
questions because there probably will be matching words for NOT GIVEN answers, they just don’t
have enough information to answer the question as a whole.
IELTS Reading Matching Headings

In the IELTS reading test you may be asked to match headings to sections of text. This type of
question tests your ability to understand the main idea of each paragraph.

Headings are short sentences that summarise the information in a paragraph. You have to pick the one that
best summarises the information in a paragraph.

You will be given between 5 and 7 headings and asked to match each paragraph in the reading text to one
heading. There are always more headings than paragraphs.
Common Problems Tips and Solutions Strategy
Below is a list of common 1. Do this question first. By 1. If this type of question is on
problems my students tend to doing this you will be able the test, do it first.
have. Have you experienced any of to get the general meaning 2. Don’t look at the headings.
these problems? of the text as a whole and 3. Read the first one or two
Later in the post we will look at this will help you with the sentences and the last
tips to overcome these problems rest of the question that sentence of each paragraph
and a strategy for answering this requires you to take a more to understand the general
kind of reading question. detailed look at the text. meaning of the paragraph.
1. There is too much 2. You are not expected to Don’t worry about
information to get through read every word of the text. highlighting keywords in the
and not enough time. This will take too long and test. Try to sum up the
2. Trying to match a word or you don’t have time for this. general meaning of each
words from the headings to In this kind of question you paragraph in one or two
a word in the text. are only expected to words.
3. Some of the headings may understand the main idea of 4. Look at the headings and
appear to have the same each paragraph. A good way identify keywords within
meaning. to do this is to read the first each heading.
4. Some students only read one or two sentences and 5. Match any headings that
the first sentence of each the last sentence of the are very obvious and you
paragraph and do not paragraphs. You can also are sure about.
understand the main idea of briefly look at the rest of 6. For the others, write 2 or 3
the paragraph. the paragraph but you don’t headings beside the
5. Spending too much time on have to read every word. paragraph. Identify the
one paragraph or heading. 3. If there are words you don’t difference between each of
6. Answers are not in the understand, don’t worry the headings. Establish if
same order as the text. about this. Again, you there are any synonyms in
should only worry about the the paragraph to keywords
general meaning of the in the headings.
paragraph as a whole, not 7. If you still can’t pick one,
individual words. Even move one. The answer will
native speakers will fail to often reveal itself later.
understand every word in 8. Repeat until finished.
the IELTS reading test.
4. Be aware of synonyms.
Many students look for
words that match exactly
with words in the text and
ignore synonyms. For
example, a keyword in the
heading might be
‘Beautiful’, however the
word you’re looking for
could be many different
synonyms of ‘beautiful’ like
‘attractive’, ‘pretty’, ‘lovely’
or ‘stunning’.
5. If there are two or three
headings that are similar,
write them beside the
paragraph and try to find
out the difference between
the two headings. What are
the keywords? How does
this change the meaning?
Which one matches the
paragraph best?
6. If you still can’t decide
which one suits best, move
on and come back to it
later. The answer will
normally be easier to find
after you have matched
some more headings.
7. Ignore anything you already
know about the topic. You
are being tested on the text
only.
8. Don’t read too quickly.
Some teachers advise that
students should just ‘skim’
the text because you don’t
have much time. In my
experience, this leads to
students not understanding
most of the text and making
mistakes. It is better to do
this a little slower and
actually understand what is
in front of you.
9. Don’t panic if you know
nothing about the general
topic of the reading text.
The IELTS reading test is not
a knowledge test and you
are not expected to have
prior knowledge of the
topic.
10. Don’t look at the headings
first. This will automatically
make you look for specific
words in the text rather
than the main idea.
Remember it is your ability
to find the main idea that is
being tested, not your
ability to find specific
information. Instead of
reading the headings first,
ignore them and get the
general meaning of each
paragraph first by reading
the first and last sentences.
Practice

Let look at an example question. Below are two paragraphs from an article called ‘Trees in Trouble-
What is causing the decline of the World’s giant forests?’

Match the two paragraphs with one of the following three headings:

1. How wildlife benefits from big trees


2. Factors that enable trees to grow to significant heights
3. How other plants can cause harm

Paragraph 1- Big trees are incredibly important ecologically. For a start, they sustain countless other
species. They provide shelter for many animals, and their trunks and branches can become gardens,
hung with green ferns, orchids and bromeliads, coated with mosses and draped with vines. With
their tall canopies basking in the sun, they capture vast amounts of energy. This allows them to
sustain much of the animal life in the forest.

Paragraph 2- Only a small number of tree species have the genetic capacity to grow really big. The
mightiest are native to Norther America, but big trees grow all over the globe, from the tropics to
the boreal forests of the high latitudes. To achieve giant stature, a tree needs three things: the right
place to establish its seedling, good growing conditions and lots of time with low adult mortality.
Disrupt any of these, and you can lose your biggest trees.

If you look at the above paragraphs you will see that they are full of difficult words like ‘bromeliads’,
‘basking’ and ‘stature’. If you try to read and understand every word you will get nowhere.

Instead we just look at the first and the last sentences and with some highlighting of keywords and
an awareness of synonyms it is apparent that the answers are:

Paragraph 1- How wildlife benefits from big trees

Paragraph 2- Factors that enable tree to grow to significant heights


IELTS Reading- Labeling a Diagram Tips and Strategy

Examples

There are three kinds of diagrams you might get: a technical drawing of a machine or invention,
something from the natural world or a design or plan. Below is an example of a natural process
taken from a sample test at IELTS.org.

Below is an example of a technical drawing:


Common Problems Tips Strategy
The main problem with these 1. Check how many words 1. Check how many words
questions is students focus too you are supposed to you can write.
much on the diagram and try to write, it will tell you in 2. Study the diagram and
understand everything about the question. In the try to understand
it. Unfamiliar diagrams can example above you can generally what is
cause panic and lose you time. only write ‘one or two happening. Don’t spend
This is not a test of your words’, any more than too much time doing this.
technical knowledge but a test this and you will 3. Highlight keywords or
of your reading skills. You lose marks. Remember labels.
should try to understand that numbers count as 4. Identify the types of
generally what is happening in one word and words required and try to
the diagram, but hyphenated words like predict the answer.
the relationship between the ‘state-of-the-art’ count as 5. Scan the text and identify
text and the diagram is more one word. where the information is
important. 2. Identify the type of word located.
Another big problem is failing (noun, verb, adjective) 6. Read in more detail to
to locate the paragraphs that you need. This will help find the answer.
contain the answers quickly you find the correct 7. Check spelling.
and losing time reading the answer.
whole text. 3. The answers do not
Students also lose marks in this always come in the same
section by writing the wrong order that the
number of words or spelling paragraphs are in.
words incorrectly. 4. Do the easiest questions
first. You are more likely
to get these correct. If
you cannot find the
answer to a difficult
question, move on and
come back later.
5. Try to predict the answer
before you read the text.
This will help you find the
correct answer.
IELTS Reading- Matching Names Tips and Strategy

In this type of question you are asked to match someone’s name, normally an expert, researcher or
scientist, to a statement.
You are given a list of names and a list of statements. Your job is to read the text and then match the
names with the correct statement. The reading text will tell you what that person has said or done
(normally research findings) and this will guide you to the correct answer.

Example
As you can see below you will be given a number of statements and a number of names. You must
use the reading text to match each statement with the correct name. You will often be given more
names than required.

Common Problems Tips Strategy


Some names will appear only once 1. Focus on the easy questions This is my suggested strategy.
in the text and some will appear first. If you can’t find the There are many different
several times. The names that answer to a question, move strategies and you should use the
occur several times will be harder on and come back to it one you feel comfortable with. You
to match than the names that later. can also adapt this strategy to
appear only once because you will 2. Find the names in the text what suits you.
have to look at several different quickly by scanning for 1. Read the question carefully.
parts of the text. Some students them and then underline 2. Focus on the names first.
focus on the hardest questions them. Read them and then scan
first. This is a problem for two 3. The names might be for the names in the reading
reasons. First, you waste time shortened to just a first or text and underline them.
looking at most of the text and last name. For example, Remember that some
second, you are more likely to get ‘John Jones’ might appear names will appear more
the easier questions correct so as only ‘Jones’ in the text. than once and you should
they deserve more of your 4. Think of synonyms that underline them all.
attention. might appear in the reading 3. Focus on the names that
text. For example, the appear only once first
Some of the difficult questions are phrase ‘intense burst of because these are the
there to separate band 8 from energy‘ could look like easiest.
band 9 students. The vast majority ‘explosive release of energy‘ 4. Read around the name to
of people will not get a band 9 and in the text. see if their findings or
you should not waste too much 5. Some of the names might research come before or
time on these very difficult be used more than once. after their name.
questions. If you were Check the question for 5. Read their research or
picking apples, would you pick the instructions on this. findings and then go back to
ones you can easily reach from the 6. The questions do not follow the statements in the
ground or take time to climb up the order of the text. You question and match. Be
the tree and pick the ones at the might have to go backwards aware of synonyms.
top? and forwards to find the 6. When you find a statement
correct answer. This is a that matches a name,
A common mistake is to read the very unnatural way to read delete the statement. Each
whole text and try to find the and requires you to use statement can only be used
names that way. You won’t have your scanning skills. once.
time to do this and it is much 7. If you like to categorise 7. Repeat for the rest of the
better to find the names quickly by things by colour, use names.
scanning for them. different coloured pens to
Some students see the name, read underline the different
that part of the reading text very names.
quickly and then match the name
with the statement. When you find
the name in the text you should
spend time reading it in more
detail to really understand what it
means before answering the
question.

The most common error is trying


to find words in the text that
match exactly with words in the
statement. Instead it is more likely
that you will find synonyms (words
with the same or very similar
meanings).
IELTS Reading – Matching Information to Paragraphs

Matching Information to Paragraphs


In this kind of question you are asked to match statements to paragraphs in the reading text.
The statements could be reasons, descriptions, summaries, definitions, facts or explanations. What
they are doesn’t really matter. You are not expected to have specialist knowledge in the reading
test.
You do not need to understand what the whole paragraph is about, just find specific
information in the paragraph and match it to one of the statements. The answer will normally be
contained in a whole phrase or sentence, rather than a single word.

Example

This question is taken from an academic sample paper. As you can see, you are given a number of
statements and you are required to match these to the correct paragraphs in the reading text.

The paragraphs in the reading text are labelled a, b, c, d and so on. Your answer will be the letter of
the paragraph, not the words or phrases in the paragraph.

There will normally be more paragraphs than questions, so don’t worry if some of the paragraphs do
not contain the information you are looking for. Also, don’t worry if you find more than one answer
in one paragraph.

The answers do not appear in the same order as the questions.

Reading Skills Common Problems Tips Strategy


You will first have to The biggest problem is 1. Do this question This is my suggested
be able to skim the the fact that you need last. If you do strategy. There are
reading text to get a to look at the whole other questions many different
general meaning of text. The answers first, you will strategies and you
each paragraph. could be anywhere in become familiar should use the one you
the text and they do with the passage feel comfortable with.
You will also have not come in order, so and this will help You can also adapt this
to scan for specific it takes time. you identify the strategy to what suits
words within the Also, the answers correct you.
paragraphs. It is more might not be the main information 1. Read the
likely that you will be idea of each more quickly instructions caref
looking for synonyms paragraph. Normally and easily. ully.
(different words that paragraphs contain 2. Try to find 2. Read the
mean the same or one main idea and names, place questions first.
nearly the same) and reading the first and names and Think about
paraphrases rather last lines of the numbers in the synonyms and
than keywords from paragraph can help questions. These how you could
the question you understand this. are often easier paraphrase the
statements. With these questions, to find in the statements. This
the answer could be in text. will help you
When you have found any part of the 3. Be aware that identify the
the words or phrases paragraph and you can there may be answer. Saying
you think might give not therefore just synonyms. For each statement
you the correct quickly skim to find it. example, you in your own
answer, you have to There is also lots of might see ‘34%‘ words can help
read very carefully in irrelevant information in the question do this.
order to fully that you do not need but it might say 3. Quickly skim the
understand the to consider. The ‘just over a third‘ reading text to
meaning to be able to strategy below will or ‘about a third‘ try to
decide if it is really the help you ignore much in the text. understand the
correct answer. of this irrelevant general meaning
information. of the text.
Finally, as stated 4. Read the
above, not all question
paragraphs contain an statements again
answer and some and predict
paragraphs contain which paragraph
more than one contains the
answer. answer.
5. Scan the text
paragraphs you
think might
contain the
answer for
synonyms. If you
find a possible
answer underline
it.
6. Check back with
the question
statement and
mark answer if
correct. If not,
move on to other
paragraphs.