In this, Tricks Magical will share my tips and tricks to answer the three most common types of IELTS reading questions.
Before we start, lets first understand the basic structure of any written content. Tricks Magical will do to explain the general distribution of content within the passage and subsequently in paragraphs.
Now, understand the basic structure of any written article.
- Information is always presented in the form of Paragraphs.
- Each Paragraph describes/discusses a subtopic related to the Main topic.
- The first paragraph usually introduces the topic.
- Central paragraphs form the body of a written article.
- The last paragraph concludes the written article
Similarly, for any paragraph, first few sentences introduce the subtopic, the middle few sentences develop/expand the idea, and the final few sentences close the subtopic.
Therefore, both the passage and paragraph follow a similar structure of introduction, body and conclusion.
Tips and Tricks IELTS Reading
1. HEADINGS – Tips and Tricks Ielts Reading
Test takers have to find the appropriate Heading from the given list for each paragraph of the Passage.
- Read initial few sentences carefully as discussed earlier they generally introduce the subtopic and forms the heading for that paragraph. Therefore, a major idea can be drawn from the very beginning of a paragraph.
- Skim through (read quickly) the rest of the paragraphs.
- Go to the list of headings and shortlist the appropriate sounding headings and exclude the odd one out.
Thus, by just reading the initial few lines candidates can draw an idea about the paragraph. Thereafter, try to shortlist the appropriate headings and reduce the number of options for any given passage. Then, one should match the key information of the paragraph with the heading to choose the right one.
c. Let’s do one example
Read the Passage on next pages, A-H
Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.
Write your answers in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.
A. Obesity is a huge problem in many Western countries and one which now attracts considerable medical interest as researchers take up the challenge to find a ‘cure’ for the common condition of being seriously overweight. However, rather than take responsibility for their weight, obese people have often sought solace in the excuse that they have a slow metabolism, a genetic hiccup which sentences more than half the Australian population (63% of men and 47% of women) to a life of battling with their weight. The argument goes like this: it doesn’t matter how little they eat, they gain weight because their bodies break down food and turn it into energy more slowly than those with a so-called normal metabolic rate.
B. ‘This is nonsense,’ says Dr Susan Jebb from the Dunn Nutrition Unit at Cambridge in England. Despite the persistence of this metabolism myth, science has known for several years that the exact opposite is in fact true. Fat people have faster metabolisms than thin people. ‘What is very clear,’ says Dr Jebb, ‘is that overweight people actually burn off more energy. They have more cells, bigger hearts, bigger lungs and they all need more energy just to keep going.
d. List of Headings and Answer
i Obesity in animals
ii Hidden dangers
iii Proof of the truth
Iv New perspective on the horizon
v No known treatment
vi Rodent research leads the way
vii Expert explains the energy requirements of obese people (Answer to paragraph b)
viii A very uncommon complaint
ix Nature or nurture
x Shifting the blame (Answer to paragraph A)
xi Lifestyle change required despite new findings
In the first paragraph, obese people are passing the blame onto their health problems for their obesity. Thus, the option ‘x’ is the right answer to paragraph A.
Similarly, for paragraph B, Dr Jebb is explaining the energy requirements of the obese people. Thus, the answer to paragraph B is the option ‘vii’.
If we look carefully, all other options are not relevant to these paragraphs. So, shortlisting the options and then matching the information is the right technique to answer such questions. Here, we would like to repeat again that paragraph’s opening sentences give us a fair bit of idea about the content of the paragraph as a writer cannot start discussing the content with introducing it to readers.
Now, moving onto the second most common type of question.
2. FILL IN THE BLANKS
Test takers have to find the appropriate words from the Passage which is to be filled in the fill in the blanks of questions.
b. Strategy – Tips and Tricks IELTS Reading
- Generally, 2-3 paragraphs are squeezed or paraphrased into a couple of lines. Keywords generally remain the same whereas all other information is put in other words.
- Most of the times keywords are to be filled in the blanks without changing their word-formation.
- Look for the articles before fill in the blanks, if any, they serve as a hint sometimes.
- More importantly, all the fill in the blanks will come in a sequence from the passage.
c. Let’s do one example:
Read the following passage and answer questions 1 to 5.
In 2002, William Kamkwamba had to drop out of school, as his father, a maize and tobacco farmer, could no longer afford his school fees. But despite this setback, William was determined to get his education. He began visiting a local library that had just opened in his old primary school, where he discovered a tattered science book. With only a rudimentary grasp of English, he taught himself basic physics – mainly by studying photos and diagrams. Another book he found there featured windmills on the cover and inspired him to try and build his own.
He started by constructing a small model. Then, with the help of a cousin and friend, he spent many weeks searching scrap yards and found old tractor fans, shock absorbers, plastic pipe and bicycle parts, which he used to build the real thing.
For windmill blades, William cut some bath pipe in two lengthwise, then heated the pieces over hot coals to press the curled edges flat. To bore holes into the blades, he stuck a nail through half a corncob, heated the metal red and twisted it through the blades. It took three hours to repeatedly heat the nail and bore the holes. He attached the blades to a tractor fan using proper nuts and bolts and then to the back axle of a bicycle. Electricity was generated through the bicycle dynamo. When the wind blew the blades, the bike chain spun the bike wheel, which charged the dynamo and sent a current through a wire to his house.
What he had built was a crude machine that produced 12 volts and powered four lights. When it was all done, the windmill’s wingspan measured more than eight feet and sat on top of a rickety tower 15 feet tall that swayed violently in strong gales. He eventually replaced the tower with a sturdier one that stands 39 feet and built a second machine that watered a family garden.
Building the Windmill
William learned some (1) _ from a library book.
First, he built a (2) _ of the windmill.
Then he collected materials from (3) ____with a relative. He made the windmill blades from pieces of (4) ____.
He fixed the blades to a (5) __________and then to part of a bicycle.
f. Answer Keys:
- physics/basic physics
- model/small model
- pipe/bath pipe
- tractor fan
Notice all the answers generally comes in a sequence.
First look for the first keyword, then it becomes very easy to locate the other fill in the blanks.
Now, moving onto the last most common type of question.
3. TRUE / FALSE / NOT GIVEN
Test takers need to compare the information in the question with the information in passage and answer.
- i. Generally, all the information is paraphrased in other words.
- ii. The answer is True/Yes if the information in question and passage matches.
- iii.The answer is False/No if the information in question and passage contradict each other.
- vi.The answer is Not given if nothing can be ascertained from the passage.
- v. Try to understand the question and then find similar information in the passage.
- vi. Questions will mostly be in a sequence.
c. Let’s do one example
Chillies originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years.
Here are some examples IELTS True False Not Given statements with answers:
- Chilles come from South America – True
- People began eating Chiles in the last few centuries – False
- South Americans were the first people to start eating Chiles – Not Given
Number one is clearly true. Notice the use of the synonym ‘come from’ used instead of ‘originates’. It is common to use different words.
Two is clearly false as it was 9,500 years ago, not a few 100 years ago.
Three is not in the text. Be careful about making assumptions then thinking it is true. It is quite probable that South Americans began eating Chiles first as they originated there; however, you can’t be sure of that and the text does not tell you that.
4. General suggestions to improve the reading score – Tips & Tricks Ielts Reading
Finally, the other general suggestions to improve the reading score are as under:
- Try to improve your vocabulary by reading other articles and news.
- Most of the answers come in a sequence in reading tasks.
- Try to answer the simpler questions first. Avoid wasting time on difficult questions.
- Try to skim and scan. Do not try to understand the whole passage. Nobody is going to ask questions from your reading a day after. Your motto should be to solve the questions.
- There is no negative marking, thus, answer all questions.
- Underline and put a number related to question number in the reading passage where you find answers. It will help you to save time while re-checking.