IELTS Reading: Useful Tips to Score Higher
Mastery over a language is very hard and it is even harder when the language is not your mother tongue. Being bilingual has its perks, however, getting to that level is no easy task. Many of you reading this may need to take IELTS exam to further your studies or for the purpose of immigration. I understand the frustration and the pressure you must be going through to achieve your targeted score. I also had to go through a similar situation when I had to apply for my Australian residency.
Most of the people take IELTS exams again and again with little to no preparation and they keep on saying something like, “I need a 6 in each band, and I get 6’s in 3 of them but never get anything above 4.5 for reading. Why am I not improving?” This issue seems to be a very common and listed below are certain ways to tackle it.
1 Prepare Effectively!
The biggest mistake that stands out, especially with self-learners, is that they are not preparing effectively. Once they complete a certain exercise, say reading, they do not take their time to understand their errors. So the biggest advice is to take the time to learn from your mistakes. Asking simple questions, such as “why did I think that was the right answer?” and reflecting, can make a big difference. As an example, consider the exercise in the IELTS reading component where one has to match the correct heading for each section. If you have selected the wrong heading, look at the correct answer and identify the reason for the error. Once the cause is found, try and avoid that mistake for future exercises.
Side note: Invest some time and money on genuine course materials.
- Cambridge IELTS 1-10 + general 11 Student’s Book w Answers: Exam Papers + DVD
- Cambridge IELTS 1-10 & 11 (academic) 11 books w/ Answers: Exam Papers + DVD
2 Be Realistic!
When working through exercises, it is very important to be realistic. What I mean is, if you get 40/40 on the reading section on your practice exam at home, but you have spent two hours on it instead of one, this is of no help. Make sure you practice as if you were sitting the actual exam! Sit the practice exams in exam conditions by timing yourself. This way you are constantly simulating exam conditions and will be better prepared for your exam. Being realistic also applies while you review and mark your own work.
3 Do not be Lenient!
When marking your own work, do not be lenient. Stop being generous to yourself! Being easy on yourself while marking gives a false impression of mastery of the subject. This friend of mine who had completed a reading exercise and he marked his answers right. They weren’t. The exercise had clearly stated write “Yes, No or Not Given”, but instead he had written, “True, False, Not Given” for his answers. This is not correct, even if you have written “True” when the answer is supposed to be “Yes”. So, do not mark yourself correct in situations like these because the IELTS examiner won’t. Penalising yourself when you make a mistake is one of the best ways to learn.
4 Follow Directions Carefully!
Follow directions carefully, learn from your mistakes, enrich your vocabulary and be realistic in your methods. Remember to understand and learn from your mistakes; do not just sit thousands of practice exams, hoping to improve. If you change the way you prepare, then you are one step closer to get the IELTS score that you need.