8 mistakes to avoid in the IELTS Reading test

What can you do to give yourself the best possible chance in IELTS Reading?

The first thing is to avoid simple common mistakes test takers make.

Keep on reading or watch the video below to find out what those mistakes are and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Not reading the instructions carefully.

Don’t try to save time by skipping this part. The instructions give you important information about what exactly what you need to do and how many words there should be in your answer.  Going over the word limit is a common cause of wrong answers so if the answer requires one word and you write 2 or 3, the whole answer will be wrong- even if one of the words is a or the. So, for example if the correct answer is vegetables and you write the vegetables, you would lose the mark.

Mistake #2 – Not leaving time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

There’s no extra time in reading to enter your answers on the answer sheet so make sure you get them  all down within the 60 minutes.

Mistake #3 – Leaving a blank.

Make an educated guess, especially in multiple choice type questions. At least, you’ll have a chance at the answer, whereas leaving an empty space means you have no chance.

Mistake #4 – Getting stuck on unknown vocabulary.

There will surely be words you don’t know the meaning of. Ignore them- most of the time you won’t need them- you can answer the question from the context- ie the words around. They will give you an idea of the meaning of the sentence and you can still answer the question.

Mistake #5 – Copying the answer incorrectly.

When transferring your answer, copy the word exactly as it is in the passage, don’t change it and be sure to spell it right as if a word is misspelled, it will be marked wrong. You are allowed to write in capitals and lower case but you will lose marks if you do not use a capital for the first letter of proper nouns such as the United Kingdom or for the title of a book.

Mistake #6 – Incorrect grammar.

In gap-filling exercises, make sure that the gap you have completed is grammatically correct. For example, if the gapped sentence reads an ——— event, the missing word must begin with a singular countable noun which starts with a vowel (aeiou).it could be for example, an unlikely event or an important event but it would not be an regular event as that is grammatically incorrect. 

Mistake #7 – Being unprepared for lengthy passages.

IELTS reading passages are quite long so you definitely need to develop your reading skills in order to read as efficiently as possible. Practise skimming over an unknown academic passage in a minute for the general meaning. Read passages  taken from textbooks or articles in university publications. You can find many academic style articles on the BBC website or the Guardian. This will help you get accustomed to the types of passages and structures you will come across in the test. 

Mistake #8 – Panicking.

Stay calm if the subject is unfamiliar – most of the time they are. You can still find the relevant answer in the passage using reading techniques. In my course, I explain the best possible techniques with real examples. This will help you not only avoid mistakes but also achieve a high band score in reading and in the listening, speaking and writing modules. You’ll also find lots of practice material so you can put these into practice and be ready to take the IELTS test.

Final note

The tips I’ve mentioned may seem logical to you but you will be surprised how many candidates make these mistakes. Remember, the difference between a 6.5 and a 7 or a 7.5 and an 8 could be just one answer. Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss that answer because of one small spelling mistake or because you wrote an extra word?

So pay attention to the points I mentioned above when you’re doing practice tests and it will become routine for you to check that you haven’t made these common mistakes.

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