One of the common mistakes that many IELTS candidates make in the IELTS Reading test is that they put the questions aside and begin reading the text from beginning to end, word by word. Many times there are words and phrases in the text that they don’t understand and it puts them under more stress. Add the ticking clock to the equation, and they find themselves panicking just a few minutes into the test.

As you might’ve guessed, this is a wrong approach to the IELTS reading. In this test, time is valuable, and it is essential to stay sharp and focused until the end of the test. Here I will present four key strategies that can help you manage your time and improve your band score in the IELTS reading test:

1- Read the questions first
2- Don’t be afraid of new words
3- Keep going
4- Practice under test conditions

1- Read the questions first

You must make the questions the priority rather than the reading text. Always start by scanning the questions so that you know what information you need to look for when you read the passages. When you go back to the text, highlight every part that seems familiar to you and might be the answer to a question. Then go back to the relevant question and write down the answer. The alternative is to read the passage first and then read the questions, then go back to the passage to look for the information you need — but since the passages are quite lengthy and contain much useless information, it is not a smart move.

2- Don’t be afraid of new words

Imagine yourself reading the passage, and suddenly you come across a word that you don’t know, and you start to panic. First of all, calm down. To ace the IELTS reading test, you don’t have to be a word guru. Even advanced test-takers often find themselves in the same situation. As long as there aren’t so many unknown words that stop you from understanding the passage, you are safe. That being said, what you do afterwards is what differentiates you from those who can’t get their target band score.

Look at the sentence once more. Can you understand the sentence anyway?  And if not, can you guess the meaning of the word from the other words around it?

3- Keep going

If these strategies don’t work and you are still stuck, just leave the sentence and ignore the related questions and move on to the next. Always remember that the value of a tricky question is the same as an easy one, so you should never waste your precious time on difficult questions that you can’t understand and continue with the more straightforward question. You might be able to come back to these questions once again when you have answered all of the easy questions and give it another try. That being said, never leave any question unanswered because you won’t be penalized for incorrect answers in the IELTS exam.

4- Practice under test conditions

These strategies won’t work unless you master them and learn actually to use them in the IELTS exam. This mastery comes from practice and not every practice. You need to simulate the test conditions, the timing, the format and the stress level that you will experience during the test. The best way to achieve this is by taking IELTS mock tests. These tests are similar to the IELTS exam and allow you to put what you have learned into practice. And if you need to have your mock test assessed by a certified IELTS examiner, you can take an online IELTS test with us. Click here to learn more.

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