The IELTS reading test is a test of a number of different skills. It tests your vocabulary knowledge, your ability to scan for information, your ability to find details, as well as your ability to paraphrase or find words with similar meanings.
Today we will focus on strategies for answering short answer or completion questions
Paraphrasing is finding new words to say the same thing. This tests your vocabulary. Your ability to recognize paraphrasing is especially important for IETLS questions like short answer, fill in the blank, summary or sentence completion. In these questions you are given information from the reading, but it will not be an exact quote. It will be paraphrased. You job is to find the relevant information and fill in the missing words or answer with a couple of words from the text. (see the examples)
Strategies for Handling these Questions:
- Read the first and last sentences of each paragraph of the article to get some idea of what the article is about and what the questions will be talking about. This should be a quick skim. Do not spend a lot of time doing this.
- Go to the question and see what type of question it is. Read the directions carefully and note how many words you can use in your answer.
- Underline the key words in the question that will help you find the answer in the text.
- Think about what other words mean the same thing as those key words. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Usually the key words in the question will NOT be the same key words as in the text. They are testing your vocabulary and paraphrasing skills.
- Go to the text and scan for any portions that sound like they could be paraphrases or synonyms of the key words in your question. If you have already read the beginning and endings of the paragraphs you will have some idea of where to look.
- Once you have found the correct paragraph, now look specifically for information about your question. REMEMBER, the words will not be EXACTLY the same words as in the question.
- Find your information and complete the answer. Make sure you don’t use more words than you are allowed.
- Now go to the next question. Note that the answers to these questions will be found in the same order as the questions. If you have found the answer to questions #1, the answer to questions #2 will be AFTER this in the text.
This is just one strategy for one type of question on the IETLS exam. If you’d like more help with IETLS exam preparation, contact me for private tutoring lessons. I am also available for Skype lessons.