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The IELTS Reading test: 9 free resources to help you get a better score

What do you do to get a higher score in the IELTS Reading test? Increase your speed by reading more texts, that’s right. But not just any texts – there is a certain kind of reading passages you will find in the IELTS test more often.

Many of you were asking me: “What should I read?” and here’s the answer: reading passages in the past IELTS tests came from the following sources:

1. The Economist – a weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news and opinions.

2. The Economist Technology quarterly

3. New Scientist – a weekly science and technology news magazine, considered by some to be the world’s best, with diverse subject matter.

4. American Scientist – an illustrated bimonthly magazine of science and technology.

5. The Geographical Journal – publishers of original research and scholarship in physical and human geography.

6. Interscience – online editions of scientific, technical, medical and professional journals

7. Australian geographic – an entertaining and fact-filled reference for anyone who loves and is fascinated by Australia and all things Australian.

8. The British museum – online publications.

9. Illustrated London News – a pictorial example of a historic social record of British and world events up to the present day.

In all of these websites there are articles you can read online (no need to subscribe, they are free) . This way you will get familiar with the style and level of articles you are likely to see in a real IELTS exam. Practice in reading using these resources and you will kill two birds with one stone, improve your reading speed and expand your vocabulary. Those of you taking the IELTS test to study in England will find this page interesting.

And now it’s your turn – do you know of other free sources of IELTS-like reading passages? Please, share!

IELTS Reading tips from Phuong – how he got Band 7

Doan Hung Phuong, who got Band 7 in IELTS, shares with us his secrets for success in the Reading test.

Reading tips

I must say that this skill is based on intelligence very much. I was advised that reading various type of articles is the best way to prepare for IELTS. In reality, I have never done that, simply because I don’t have time. I hate reading. But the fact is that in this skill I got the highest score. I have no idea why, not because I am an intelligent man, but maybe, just maybe because I can understand the main idea very well.

Reading requires a great deal of vocabulary. But when my friends tell me that I got the high score because I have a good range of vocabulary, I totally disagree. Vocabulary is important, but you don’t need to know every word. You should only know keywords, the words that can change completely the answers.

Pay a particular attention to the grammar structure. You may see various types of grammar structures, but try to understand them all, they will be helpful for your writing. Most of us have limited vocabulary, but if you are weak at grammar, you don’t know what the text refers to, and obviously, you lose main idea. As a result, you can’t guess the meaning based on context.

Catching the main idea in reading is also important. You must have known that skimming and scanning are 2 essential tools in reading. Both rely on understanding of main ideas. Therefore, if you can’t catch main ideas in a short time, you will suffer. But how to practice getting main ideas in a brief time? I must say that reading various articles in this case is helpful (even though I’ve never done so). But I tried to do reading tests every day, and tried to understand the main idea of every passage.

Another way to practice Reading is Speed Reading. I have known this method from English centers but to many people, maybe this is still a strange way. You choose a short easy passage (about 500 words) and then read quickly (for both main idea and details). Please note that the passage you choose must be easy. If there are more than 5 words that are completely new to you, perhaps it is not a good passage for the speed reading. In addition, reading as quickly as possible is NOT the key. If you read so fast that you have to read again, there are no benefits gained from this practice. The key here is main ideas, and next is details. Besides understanding all main points, you should try to remember as much details as you can. In speed reading exercises, there are 10 true/false question for you to do at the back. These questions will measure your accurate comprehension.

Besides skimming and scanning, I found that reading intensively is also important in the IELTS test, especially to understand tough questions. Some questions or particular sentences, you need to read and try to understand every single word. Especially with true/false/not given (or yes/no/not given) questions, a single word can change the whole meaning.

After finishing the reading practice test, you MUST check all wrong answers, try to explain why you were wrong (you may need someone who has a good level of English to help you) and think of another way to answer those questions faster. You will gain the necessary experience by doing this before the real test.

In brief, guessing is the key in reading. You must guess logically and academically. Take time to practice reading, you will see that your reading skills will improve in just a short period of time.”



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