Every IELTS Reading test, no matter Academic or General has tasks of this kind. Lots of students tell me (and I agree) that this is a very confusing task. Everyone knows the IELTS reading exam is tough. You a very short amount of time to answer a large number of questions on very complicated texts. You need to develop very good reading skills to get a 6.5. Band Score or higher and have a range of strategies prepared in order to tackle it. Here are some tips:
1. Beat the fear, read as much as possible
One reason why this is such a good idea is that many candidates freeze in the reading believing it is too hard and so fail to get their band score. If, however, you read enough “native English” before the exam, you will become more and more confident in looking at texts where you don’t understand every word. Confidence is a very important concept in IELTS.
2. Get an Overview
Get an overview of a text before dealing with the questions. Do this by reading the title and subtitle as well as focusing on the beginnings and ends (but not JUST the first and last sentences) of paragraphs. This helps you process the information in a text (and thereby answer the questions) more quickly.
3. Improve key skills: skimming and scanning and reading in detail
A major problem in the exam is the length of the texts and you will not have time to read them all carefully. You need to train your speed reading skills so that you can read as efficiently as possible. 2 skills here are skimming which is reading quickly for general meaning and scanning which is looking for specific information.
4. Manage Your Time
Time manage in the exam. Most IELTS candidates run out of time in the third reading section. Each text should take you roughly 20 minutes (the examiners will tell you after 20 minutes have passed). Never spend too long on a single question – guess the answer or leave it to return to later. Also if you feel you are running out of time, tackle questions like gap-fills before doing “easy to guess” tasks like YES NO NOT GIVEN questions. Don’t forget you also have to have all your answers on your mark sheet by the end of the test. A good tip is to write them on the mark sheet in pencil as you go, correcting where necessary at the end.
5. Fill out the answer sheet
Practise filling out the answer sheet before you get to the exam. Too many avoidable mistakes are made this way. I’d go further: whenever you practise IELTS reading, use an answer sheet.