These IELTS Reading tips were shared by Bahar, who received the Overall Band score of 8.5 (with Band 9 in Reading!). You can read her advice for the Speaking test here.
“How to begin
Before turning to the questions, take a brief look at the text to gain a general idea of what it is about. Then, read the questions clear and more than once to be able to answer more efficiently. After having an idea of what the text and especially each paragraph is mainly about, it is wise to determine which questions belong to which paragraphs. This method did a great deal of help, in my experience. You can also write a short title for each paragraph to make the classification of the questions you need to answer easier. It takes less time to search for a particular point when you know what each paragraph contains.
Dealing with difficult questions
When facing a difficult or confusing question, the best thing to do is to leave it and turn to other sections and fill out the other blanks in your answer sheet. When you are done with the easy questions, you can go back to the difficult ones and this time, you have more time to concentrate on them and are, therefore, more relaxed and able to think clearly, without worrying about other questions as you have already done them.
Tip for TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN
Do not in any way confuse a NO with a NOT GIVEN or a FALSE with a NOT GIVEN upon reaching YES, NO, NOT GIVEN or TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN questions. When a phrase is FALSE, make sure to find its exact opposite in the text. If you cannot, or if such a phrase is not mentioned, then it is NG. As for YES or TRUE phrases, you must be able to locate them as they are often clearly stated in the text, paraphrased and with words of similar meaning.
Write answers in the right places
It is quite essential to check whether you have written the answers in their right places. For instance, if you write the answer of question 12 beside question 13, then both are marked as false and just like that, you lose two points, even if both answers are correct. So check the questions and the answers every now and then. One way to be certain of this is to say “question 12…C”, for example, clearly in your head for every question you answer to avoid the answers getting mixed up.
Guessing can help
As you receive no negative points when you a question wrongly, make sure to fill all the blanks even if you think your answers are incorrect. There is still a slight probability of them being right.
Don’t re-think your answers
Do not dwell too much on your already-answered questions. Chances are that you would not only correct your answers but choose wrong ones.”