IELTS Academic Reading Section Tips

The academic section of IELTS is undoubtedly tougher than the general section. Why is that? The academic score is accepted in universities and places where you wish to pursue further education, research or a career in academics. The academic section will test your ability to comprehend, analyse and understand the flow of the articles.

There will be 3 sections with different articles designed to test your knowledge on various reading skills. Each passage is between 500 to 700 words.
Think academic: An academician is expected to be capable of understanding and analysing complex information. Identifying, researching, collating key information will be a part of your life.

If you look at the test through an examiner lens you will see why the tests are framed a certain way and the logic behind each question. To be able to achieve a decent score, expect to do the following:
• Find out the writer’s opinion
• Identify the main argument
• Diagram or table completion and summarization
• Identify key ideas and details supporting it
• Find out the purpose of the article
• Find key information

In order to test you on the above skills, you will have to answer 40 questions. You will have 60 minutes to identify and answer the questions which can be of the following type:

Table completion – A grid of information where certain pieces will be missing. You will have to find the missing information in the sequence that is present in the table.

True, false, not given type – These questions look innocent but can leave you scratching your head as you try to understand what’s not given and what is false. There will be an option that will clearly contradict some given piece of information and one where there will be hardly any information.

Pay close attention to these to be able to get that dream score.

Flow-chart completion – There will be a flow chart presenting information to you in a sequential manner. You have to correctly identify the piece of information that will complete the sequence.

Short-answer questions – In this question it is crucial to read the word limit and stick to it. Expect that you will have to paraphrase the answer with the help of a good vocabulary.

Diagram label completion – In these questions you will be shown a diagram with supporting text to help you find labels to the said diagram. Do not panic if the diagram looks fairly complicated, it is the text that will allow you to find all the answers easily. Try to develop the skill to skim through the text to be able to answer quickly.

Multiple choice questions – This type of question requires extra care when being answered as the options presented can be very close to one another. Generally, there will be subtle differences in the options making it difficult for the candidate to pin point the correct one, take a moment before marking the answer.

Matching information questions – Here you will find paragraphs labelled numerically or alphabetically. The task is to find the sentence that correctly summarises, describes or explains the paragraph or information in the paragraph. The correct answer will be the label of the paragraph and not the text of it. So make sure your answers are a,b,c,d, or 1,2,3,4.

Matching headings questions – As the title says, here you have to match the most appropriate heading to the main idea of each paragraph. This exercise probably requires more practice than the others as you will have to read each paragraph to be able to understand the main idea behind it.

Matching features questions – You will generally find information that requires you to match a name with a piece of information. If you are aiming for a high score, learn to look at the names first and then find information associated with them.

For example: if the question is asking you, who the professor of a certain discipline is, look for the name of the discipline in the article to be able to answer quickly.

Sentence completion type – You might believe this to be an easy one but the trick here is to be able to paraphrase. If the correct answer is more than the word limit given in the instructions then you need to fill it with a grammatically correct answer.

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