Reading Tips

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For many students, IELTS Reading is the toughest test. What does it test? Well, in simple words, it tests your English comprehension levels.

Do you know that IELTS Reading test is all about rephrasing? That is, in the test, they take some key information and rephrase it. If you can recognise the rephrasing, it becomes easy. See the example below.

Question: Is the statement below True, False or Not Given?

Statement: The island was almost inaccessible before the authorities started the project.

Passage: The corals and rough seas meant that the island was virtually totally isolated prior to the time the French government stared implementing the MRTP project.

The passage says ‘the island was virtually totally isolated’. In the statement it is rephrased as ‘the island was almost inaccessible’. ‘before’ is rephrased as ‘prior to’. So, it is clear that the answer is True.

Like this, all Reading test questions are paraphrased. What you need to do is, use the key words in the question to locate the answer in the passage and then decide whether the information in the question is the same or not.

Here are some strategies:

1. Skimming
Before starting with the questions, skim the passage very quickly. Skimming means reading the passage very, very quickly. Or, if you are person who takes too much time to read, do this:
Read the first sentence of every paragraph. This should give you an overall idea of the passage. For this, do not take more than two minutes.

2. Next, start with the question. Read the question really slowly, focusing on key words.
Key words are the words that carry information.

3. Next step is scanning.
Look through the passage for the same key words. This is called scanning. But wait! Most of the time, you will not find exactly the same key words as in the question. (If that was the case, it would be too easy!) Search for paraphrasing, that is, the same idea in different words.

4. Decide on the answer
Once you locate the answer, you need to read the question again and finally, decide on your answer.

Now, a little practice.

This is a True. False, Not Given question. Below you will find a text and then below that there are three statements. You need to say whether these statements are True, False or Not Given.

What you should do

  • Step 1 Skim the text
  • Step 2 Read the questions
  • Step 3 Scan the text and find the answer using the key words from the statements.


The Cypriot society’s culture emphasizes ideologies and value systems which attach great importance to individual achievement. As the tourist policy followed by the Cyprus Government and the Cyprus Tourism Board has been to aim at the middle and high income groups, and the tourists come mainly from Europe, tourism has not had as marked an adverse effect on the values and attitudes of Cypriot society as may otherwise have been the case.

Statements: (Are these statements True/ False/ Not Given?)

1. In Turkey, individual achievement is more important than hospitality
2. Tourists come mainly from the UK
3. Cypriot society has not been adversely affected by tourism.

Write your answers on a paper and then check the correct answers given below.


1. Not Given. (Passage doesn’t say individual achievement is more important than hospitality)
2. Not Given. (UK is not the same as Europe. Tourists may be mainly from the UK or maybe they are not. It is not clear.)
3. False. (The last sentence says ‘tourism has not had as marked an adverse effect… as may otherwise have been the case’. This means tourism had some negative effect.)

You found the passage a little tough? Well, this is the kind of text they mostly use in the IELTS tests. So, what you should do? Every day, read such articles in magazines, newspapers etc. While reading, pay attention to long confusing sentences, read them again and again till you get the meaning. The next step is build on your vocabulary. (See the section on Vocabulary).

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