Academic Reading Preparation (Part1)

IELTS Academic Reading Preparation: Part #1

In the IELTS Academic Reading module, you will be given 3 reading passages with approximately 40 questions. Each reading passage is approximately 650- 1400 words long and would have 12-14 accompanying questions. The passages are usually taken from books, newspapers, journals or magazines. You will have to answer all the questions. When you will study in a University where the medium of study instruction is English, you will not have enough time to read all the books on the reading lists. So you must be able to read quickly and to find important and necessary information quickly and accurately from different sources like books, the Internet, reference books, lecture sheets etc.

The original Academic IELTS reading module assesses how well you are to do the same thing. IELTS is not designed to assess your specialised knowledge about a particular topic. So you should be able to understand and answer all the reading questions accurately if you prepare yourself properly. To help you prepare for the IELTS Academic Reading module, this section of the website has been designed in a chronological order. Follow the steps presented here and make sure you are prepared enough to sit for the original IELTS exam.

Following is the summary of the IELTS Academic Reading Test:

Exam Length: 60 minutes / 1 hour.

Total Reading Passage: 3 (The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words).

Sources: Reading Passages are taken from books, magazines, newspapers, journals etc.

Passage Style: Academic Reading Passages comes with a variety of styles and formats including descriptive, narrative and discussion/ argumentative. Some reading passages come with diagrams, pictures, graphs or other illustrations. Glossary is provided for the technical terms used in these passages. 

Total Questions: 39-42. In each reading passage, there will be approximately 12-14 questions with 2-3 different questions sets. 

Marking: 1 mark for each correct answer. There is no negative marking for wrong answers.

Following is the chart of estimated score for the total number of correct answer:

Correct Answer        Band Score
39-40                           9
36-38                           8
29-35                           7 
23-28                           6
16-22                           5
10-15                           4
4-9                               3
2-3                               2
1                                 1

Note: Complete the exam within 1 hour. No extra time would be given for transferring the answer to the answer sheet. Use a pencil to answer the questions.

Download Academic Reading Answer Sheet


Procedure of the Academic Reading test:
You usually sit for the Listening exam first and then for the reading exam. So reading is the second part of the exam on the test day.  You will be provided with the question papers and answer sheet. Specific instructions are provided in the question booklet and you will be instructed when to start the exam. Please note that you are given 10 minutes time for your LISTENING exam for transferring your answer to the answer sheet. But for the reading module, NO EXTRA TIME IS GIVEN for transferring the answers to the answer sheet. So you must write your answers directly on the answer sheet using a pencil. You are given 60 minutes (1 hour) for the entire reading test. The test instructions indicate how much time you should spend on each section of the test and it is usually 20 minutes per reading passage. However, you are free to allocate your time among the three reading passages and there is no restriction on that. For instance, you can spend 15 minutes on a comparatively easier reading passage while utilising 25 minutes for a comparatively difficult and lengthy reading passage.

Academic Reading Test Question types:

1. Multiple Choice.
2. Short-answer questions.
3. Sentence completion.
4. Notes/table/summary/ flowchart/diagram completion.
5. Yes, No, Not Given or True, False, Not given.
6. Classification.
7. Matching lists /phrases.
8. Choosing headings for paragraphs/ sections of a text.
9. Scanning and identifying the location of information.
10. Labelling a diagram which has numbered parts.
 

Note: There are 40 questions in total. Each of the three sections has around 11-14 questions and there are at least two types of questions in each section.

 IELTS Academic readingThings you should know about the Academic IELTS reading test:

» You must identify the requirement to answer the questions. Find the information as quickly as possible and answer accurately.

» You will not have time to read every word of every passage. So don't try to read the full passage slowly or read the whole passage line by line.

» The first thing to do is to quickly skim through the passage to find out what it is about in a very general sense.

» You must understand the whole passage within 7-8 minutes and then look for the questions. This will help you to understand what to look for and where to look for.

 » Do not spend too long on one passage or questions of one reading passage. Be specific about the timing. If you can't answer a particular question, leave it and go to the next question and later come back to the unanswered questions.
 
»  IELTS reading passages do not test your technical or subject specific skills. It tests your reading skill. So if you find a reading passage on a very technical or subject specific topic, do not worry. Even if a reading passage comes from a technical subject like robotics, genetics, physics, economics or so on, keep in mind that that has been designed for non-technical readers.
 
» There is no negative marking in IELTS exam so answer all of the questions. Sometimes wise-guessing or elimination process would help you answer a question correctly. But do not go for the guessing or elimination process until you reach at the last moment of the exam. 
 

IELTS Reading tipsThings you should remember about the Academic IELTS reading module:

 » Remember that you are reading for a purpose, not for pleasure. Don't panic if there are words you do not understand. You may not need to know this word(s) to answer the questions provided.

» Always look at the passage title and headings when you survey the text, as well as special print like- CAPITAL, Bold, italic, "quotation", underlined words. Sometimes these special marking texts contain important information that would be helpful directly or indirectly for answering questions.

» Remember, there is no penalty for an incorrect answer in IELTS. If you are not certain about an answer to a question, try to omit the wrong answers first and then make a wise decision to answer the question.

» Check that you have understood exactly what the question wants and that you have followed the instructions carefully.

» Some questions expect the opposite answers and you should always be careful while answering these types of questions. For instance, the reading passage might contain information regarding the steps taken to improve employee performance while the question would ask for the step which is not taken by the organisation to improve employee performance.

»Follow the instruction very carefully. Failing to conform to the instructions would make your answer incorrect. For example, if a question asks you to write "True" if the statement is true and you write 'Yes', your answer would be treated as a wrong answer.

IELTS Academic reading Now you know the basic of Academic IELTS reading and should be ready to start more comprehensive preparation lesson step by step.

Step 1 :
Survey the whole passage:

Look at:
The title of the passage.
Section headings.
Special prints (CAPITAL, Bold, italic , "quotation", underlined words.)
Any diagram/table/picture/table  etc.

Sample Reading Passage .....
From a number of recent studies, it has become clear that blind people can appreciate the use of outlines and perspectives to describe the arrangement of objects and other surfaces in space. But pictures are more than literal representations. This fact was drawn to my attention dramatically when a blind woman in one of my investigations decided on her own initiative to draw a wheel as it was spinning. To show this motion, she traced a curve inside the circle (Fig. 1). I was taken aback. Lines of motion, such as the one she used, are a very recent invention in the history of illustration. Indeed, as art scholar David Kunzle notes, Wilhelm Busch, a trend-setting nineteenth-century cartoonist, used virtually no motion lines in his popular figure until about 1877.

Now you can extract the following information from the above paragraph of the passage:

The title of the passage : Visual Symbols and the blind
Section headings : Not provided.
Special prints : David Kunzle ,Wilhelm Busch,
Any diagram/ table/ picture/ table etc.: Year 1877, and a picture.

Tips # 1: Pay special attention to the Years, date and time. In IELTS reading there are many questions those simply ask the time or date. And these types of questions are very easy to answer if you pay attention to the provided year, name, date and time.

Step 2:
Do not read the whole passage first:
It is a mistake to begin reading a passage without first having a reason to read. There are 3 parts to the Reading Test, and many candidates begin each part in the same way - by reading the passage. They might read it in detail, or scan it quickly to find out what the topic of the passage is and to get a general idea of the contents. However, candidates who do this first have forgotten the need to predict information. They do not have a good enough reason to read the passage so soon. Always have a reason to read a passage before you begin to do so. Have a question in your mind - something you are looking for - otherwise, you will not be managing your time well. 

Step 3:
Read The Passage in a Logical Order:

  • The Title of the reading passage should give you a rough idea about the main topic of the passage. If you do not understand the meaning of the title or some of the words it contains, it does not matter.

  • Try and work out the meaning of the title while you continue to read.

  • The Headings for each section of the passage refer to what is contained in each section, and where information can be located. They also help you to predict what the passage is about.

  • Bold printed words indicate that those words are of some importance. They can also help you to predict information contained in the passage.

  • It is said that a Picture is worth a thousand words. Always look at illustrations, figures, tables, graphs and diagrams that accompany a reading passage. They often summarise, add important detail, or make information in the passage clear.

  • The Instructions contain important information that you must read. If you do not read the instructions, you will almost certainly answer some of the questions in the wrong manner. The instructions may also contain clues about the information contained in the passage.

  • What kind of Answers do you need to give? The instructions will tell you. The kinds of answers that are required, also tell you more about the information within the passage. Is the answer a name? a date? a number?

  • The Example not only provides you with the correct way to answer the questions, it tells you, in summarised form, more about the passage itself. You are not wasting time by examining the example and the answer it gives.

  • Finally, the Questions themselves provide valuable hints about the ideas contained in the passage as well as specific information to look for on your first reading.

All of the above should be quickly examined before you read the passage in any detail. It will make scanning the passage much easier, and will help you to predict a large amount of information.

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