Time Management in the Reading Test
Now, the reading test is where you really face the time challenge.
The first thing you need to be aware of is that not all of the three parts in the Reading test are equal in importance and difficulty. The text and questions in the first part are easier than the other two. The best way to approach this part is to begin by reading the topic sentences only. Topic sentences are usually the first sentence in a paragraph. The topic sentence (or sentences) tells us what the paragraph is about and introduces the topic of the paragraph. The next sentences in the paragraph explain the topic sentence, expand on it, or give examples.
The next step is to go straight into the questions, and since you already know where the answers can be found in the text, you can easily find the relevant part of the text and identify the answers.
The second and third parts in IELTS Reading will contain more challenging texts and questions and therefore, will require more detailed reading. The sentences are usually longer and more complex, and if you are careless, may get thrown off by many distractors that are placed within the text and infer incorrect information.
Even though you have 60 minutes to answer the Reading test, before you begin, try to imagine that you only have only 50 minutes to answer all of the questions completely. You might say that you are already short of time, and now we are cutting it further! But remember that if you are aiming for a high band score, you need to leave 10 minutes in the end to check all of your answers. This is where many candidates get it wrong. This review is not just a simple spell-check because you will need to read the questions once again and quickly answer them in your heart. Ask yourself if your answers make sense in the question? Are the completed sentences grammatically correct? Has a distractor mistaken you?
Remember that you only have 60 minutes to answer 40 questions. That means that excluding the reading time, you have only 90 seconds per question! So don’t waste time on questions you can’t find the answer to. Mark them, skip them, move on and come back to them later.
Now let me name a few pitfalls which can affect the way you manage the time to answer the Reading questions:
If you read the passages carelessly or without concentration, finding answers will become very difficult, and you will consume more time reading the passages over and over again because you can’t easily find the answers.
If you get stuck on a particularly challenging question, you will lose time that can be used to answer simpler questions. Remember that all questions have equal importance, so it is essential that you can answer all of the easy questions instead of a few difficult questions.
If you read slowly, or you do not pay attention to understand important parts of the paragraphs, you will not be able to answer the questions correctly within the time. Therefore you should work on your pace and focus before the IELTS exam.
Most of IELTS candidates confirm that even getting an overview of the passages in the time available is a challenge, and this is only half the story because you then need to answer all of the questions within time. This means that you must absolutely practice reading and answering the questions in the time allowed as much as you can.