One of the four portions of the IELTS, IELTS Reading is that part of the assessment that measures the test taker’s reading comprehension, vocabulary, working memory and attention, and such other important reading skills.

As mentioned in our previous post, in IELTS Reading, each test taker will read three different texts, which range from factual and descriptive to methodical, discursive, and analytical. The content of these texts will vary, depending whether the test being taken is IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. A total of 40 questions will be asked thereafter, with most of the items involving multiple choice questions on the reading material.

A total of 60 minutes will be allotted for this part of the exam. For most, if not all, test takers, it is quite a challenge to finish all of these in just an hour: read and understand three different passages, choose the best answer for each of the questions, and then go back to the text and the answers for review. As the examinee, you will have no choice but to be in a hurry, and when you rush, you will be prone to make mistakes.

Most certainly, though, committing these errors is something you can avoid. Here are some of the best tips and strategies in answering multiple choice questions in IELTS Reading, in order for you to get that target band score!

Read the question and instruction carefully.

Even if you are constrained by time, make sure to read the question and instruction very carefully before selecting among the given choices. Do not rely on what was asked previously; no two questions or instructions are the same.

To illustrate, the multiple choice questions in the first passage may ask you to choose two options for each item. In the next or the third passage, there is no guarantee that you will be asked to do the same thing. Do not make the mistake of skipping the instructions and choosing two options per item because that was what was asked of you in the first passage. Again, you may be pressed for time, but reading the instructions for each section and understanding the question for each item are steps you should not skip.

Eliminate obviously incorrect answers.

For many multiple choice questions, there are answer choices that can be eliminated with minimal effort, especially when the question calls for choosing only one answer among a list of three to five choices. Using the elimination strategy, cross out all these obviously incorrect answers, and then focus on the remaining answer options. This strategy does not only let you save time, but it also minimises the risk of random guessing, and thus increases your likelihood of selecting the correct answer.

Make intelligent guesses.

You will not always find the answer to a multiple choice question, and that is totally fine. If you are in doubt, make an educated guess using context clues your knowledge of the world (prior knowledge), and after applying the elimination strategy as discussed above.

In the IELTS, test takers are given credit for answers that are correct, and are not penalised for answers that are incorrect. This being so, you would most certainly rather make a smart guess, rather than leaving the question blank. Your guess, if wrong, would not result in a penalty/deduction anyway, while a correct guess would earn you a point–definitely better than leaving the item unanswered.

Another reason why you should not leave anything blank is that it is easy to get confused when there are empty boxes in the sheet. If you are not mindful, you might risk all of your succeeding answers being wrong just because they are all in the wrong boxes.

Want more helpful IELTS tips and strategies? Enrol in our IELTS review courses!

Private English Class, Ltd. will be more than happy to be with you as you strive to conquer IELTS Reading and all the other portions of the IELTS Exam. To learn more about our IELTS Exam Preparatory Course, click this link. You may also send us a message through our Facebook page for any question or concern. We will assist you as soon as possible.

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