IELTS Academic Reading Preparation: Part #2
Scanning the Reading Passage:
Scanning is the method to use when you need to search a page quickly for information that you require. You may be looking for the general idea of the information on the page (skim quickly through the information), or you may wish to scan for specific information. In either case, the method is to sweep your eyes across the page slowly and smoothly, starting at the top left, and working your way across and down the page in a wavelike motion as in the illustration below.
Practice scanning by applying the scanning technique to this page and other pages of writing of your own choice. Did you understand the general idea of the topics on the page you just scanned? Did you move smoothly and steadily? Do not read every word and do not rush. You are simply guiding your eyes with your finger or pen, and picking up information as you go, occasionally stopping for a moment to read something important that you have found, and continuing slowly back and forth, across and down the page.
It takes a little practice at first, but it is the best way to move quickly through a text without getting stuck and wasting time reading a lot of unnecessary information. You are more likely to find what you are looking for because you will have covered all parts of the page.
When scanning, guide your eyes across the page by using your first 3 fingers, or your index finger alone, or even the tip of a pen or pencil. This will prevent your eyes from wandering about on the page. You can increase your general reading speed too, by following your finger with your eyes across the page as you read. Many studies prove how much quicker people read when guiding their eyes across the page. You might be surprised to discover how much faster you will be reading.
Know where to start looking for an answer:
There is usually a logical place to begin looking for the answer to a reading question. This requires an understanding of the main idea or topic of each paragraph. You can save yourself a great amount of time if you work out the main idea or topic of each paragraph in the early stages of your assessment of the passage.
Finally, read around the keywords and phrases.
Now step ahead to learn how to prepare to answer all types of reading questions.
Question Types: Multiple Choice.
There are three types of multiple choice questions in the IELTS reading exam.
1. Where there is one possible answer.
2. Where there are multiple answers for only one mark.
3. Where there are multiple answers and one mark for each.
For these questions, you may be given the start of a sentence which you have to complete with one out of four choices. Or you may be presented with a question and asked to find two, three or four items in a list of answers.
You could be asked to identify facts or opinions in the texts.
Multiple choice questions can test both your global understanding of the text or ask you for specific information. This means you will have to make the decision yourself whether to skim or scan the text.
Type 1 (one possible answer)
Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.
1 According to information in the text, asparagine
A is poisonous.
B can cause cancer.
C is harmless unless heated.
D should only be eaten in small amounts.
2 According to information in the text, acrylamide
A. has been found in lots of fried food.
B. has been found in snacks in Sweden.
C. is only found in western cooking.
D. is in water.
3 According to information in the text, process foods
A. should be avoided.
B. are cheaper.
C. are full of chemicals.
D. are the tastiest foods.
Type 2 (multiple answers for only one mark)
Write TWO letters A-F in box 4 on your answer sheet.
4 Which TWO examples of food is asparagine found in?
C. French fries
Type 3 (multiple answers and one mark for each)
The list below gives some of the problems for dieters raised by Dr Jones. Which THREE of these problems are mentioned by the writer of text?
A. Accessible junk food.
B. Coffee bars and after-work drinks.
D. Stress & emotional situations.
E. Saboteurs and false friends.
F. Weakened resolve.
Also note that you may be asked to circle ONE, TWO, THREE or FOUR letters.
How to answer the multiple choice questions:
- Read the instructions carefully and check how many letters you need to circle.
- Skim all the questions and the answer choices quickly. As you do this,
» Try to get an idea of the topic you will be reading about from the vocabulary of the questions.
» Look at any illustrations or diagrams that go with the text.
- Go back to the first question. Decide if you are looking for specific information or whether the question requires you to understand the whole text. Then either scan or skim the text, as appropriate, to find the answer.
- Read the relevant part of the text very carefully.
- Don’t leave any questions unanswered.
Question Types: Short answer questions.
There are 2 types of short answer questions in the IELTS reading exam.
For these questions, like the multiple choice questions, you have to apply both skimming and scanning techniques. Also, note that the answers should not require a hyphenated word (e.g. non-smoker) or a contraction (e.g. They’ve). If the answer requires a number, you can write it as a numeral (e.g. 6) or a word (e.g. six) or a combination of a numeral and a word (e.g. 6 million).
Answer the following questions using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.
1. How old was Spencer when he did his first degree?
2. Which teacher was instrumental in Spencer’s success?
Type 2 (List type)
List FOUR reasons for Spencer being a child prodigy.
Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 3-5 on your answer sheet.
Instructions to answer the short-answer Question:
- Read the instructions carefully.
- Skim all the questions quickly. As you do this:
» Underline the key words. Decide what information you need to find in the text.
» Look out for question words like ‘where’ and ‘who’ which indicate
»You should listen for specific things like places and people.
- Go back to the first question and decide what part of the text you need to read.
- Read the part carefully to find the answer.
- You may use your own words. You don’t have to write a complete sentence but it does have to be grammatically correct.
• If you don’t know the meaning of any of the words in the questions, look at the other questions. They might have some associated vocabulary in them to help you guess the meaning.
• The answer could be one word, two words or three words but not four or more.
• If you think you need more than three words your answer is probably incorrect.
Question Types: Sentence completion.
There are two types of sentence completion questions in the reading exam.
1) With a selection of possible answers.
2) Without a choice of possible answers.
These questions require you to complete the end of a sentence. The questions appear in the same order as the information in the text.
Type 2 questions are similar to the short answer questions in that they will always tell you to write your answers in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS. So you can answer with one word, two words or three words but not more. They will also tell you to use words from the reading passage.
Type 1 (With a selection of possible answers)
Complete each of the following statements (Questions 1-3) with the best ending A-F from the box below. Write the appropriate letters A-F on our answer sheet.
1 Incorporating organic and inorganic matter
2 Spent mushroom compost
3 Adding potassium regularly
| A. makes the soil more alkaline.
B. will help to encourage flowering and fruiting.
C. makes roots stronger.
D. encourages vigorous growth.
E. will help hold moisture in the soil.
F. will improve aeration
Type 2 (Without a selection of possible answers)
Complete the sentences below with words taken from the passage.
Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 4-6 on your answer sheet.
4. Bulbs should be stored ……….
5. Seeds may deteriorate if exposed to ……….
6. Summer flowering annuals should not be planted until after ……….
How to do sentence completion questions:
- Read the instructions carefully.
- Quickly read through all the sentences halves. As you do this
» Underline the key words.
» Try to work out what information you need.
» Think about the grammatical form as well as the vocabulary that should follow immediately from the stem.
- Go back to the first sentence and decide what information you need to complete it.
- Find the place where the information should be in the text and read it carefully.
- Look out for synonyms and parallel expressions because the questions are not likely to use the same words as those in the text.
- Make sure your sentences make sense both logically and grammatically.
For type two, the answer could be one word, two words or three words but not four or more. If you think you need more than three words your answer is probably incorrect.