Improve Your IELTS Score By Developing Your Reading Skills

How To Develop Your Reading Skills

This article is a continuation on how to improve IELTS score by focusing on your reading skills.

You need to read the question and understand exactly what piece of information you are looking for. Highlight the keywords in the question and find that date, word or synonym, in the text.

Take a look at the extract below from an article about the author, Charles Dickens and practice finding the dates/names and then match to the correct answer.

  1. In which year (1855, 1857 or 1858) did Dickens:
  2. Meet Maria Beadnell?
  3. Meet Ellen Ternan?
  4. Separate from Catherine?

In the next, find the answer to the following question:

How many months was Dickens’ tour? (Remember to ask yourself, what kind of information am I looking for – a name, a date, a number, a word?) and then scan the text to find that type of word. Then see if it gives you the answer to the question.

The last skill you need to master is reading for detail, where you are reading with a specific aim in mind and this matches questions in the IELTS reading paper such as True/False/Not Given or summarising questions. These kinds of tasks require you to use skimming or scanning to find the location of the possible answer, then read for detail in the part of the passage you are looking for the answer in.

Of course, you will need to be able to use this skill for most of the test as you use your skills to find the area of the passage you are looking for and then read the sentences around to see if it answers your question. If it doesn’t, move on to the next area you find. Skimming and scanning will help you find the part of the text you want and reading for detail will help you get the answer to the question.

Remember, though, we are discussing and practising reading skills in general and questions in the IELTS exam require different skills. Once you have practised skimming, scanning and reading for detail in general, you can then look at applying these different techniques to the right questions. We will discuss the different approaches and the questions they apply to in future articles.

Look at this extract again. Read the questions, identify the keywords and the kind of information you are looking for and try to answer the questions.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

  1. Which of the artefacts mentioned is the oldest?
  2. When was the material the archaeologists originally made?
  3. What two common materials did ancient humans use to obtain their ochre?
  4. What did ancient people use to keep their ochre mixture in?
  5. Apart from painting, what else might ancient humans have used ochre for?

If you need help on how to improve your IELTS score preparations, and you want to progress with a highly-experienced UK IELTS teacher, go to our website: to find out more. If you want to ask any questions directly, contact Alex by email: [email protected]

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