Reading: Get active
How many times have you read a page of a book or a paragraph in an article and had to return to the beginning to read it again? We all do it in our native languages and, of course, in our 2nd languages too. It’s a bad habit that that can cost you time and points in the exam.
In IELTS reading, there is enough time to read everything but there is not enough time to read everything 2, 3 or 4 times. So, the key is to train your brain to read actively. That is, ensure that as you read, you are really absorbing and making sense of the text. To read efficiently, you need to overcome that bad habit of going backwards and re-reading.
Tips to improve your active reading skills:
- Read dramatically (in your head!). Imagine you are giving a speech. Emphasise key words and don’t rush. Speed is useless if you haven’t understood what you read.
- Push forward. When you finish a sentence or a paragraph, resist that urge to go back and read it again. Keep moving forward. Practice with paragraphs first, then full texts.
- Use your pen. Underline, make notes, draw stars, arrows, happy faces, sad faces etc. in the margins. Develop a code or system that is meaningful to you.
- Summarise. Practice writing brief summaries of paragraphs in your own words.
Remember, active reading is a skill that takes time to develop. Don’t panic if it doesn’t improve overnight. Investing time now in improving your reading efficiency will ultimately help to lift your score in this section. Plus, you’ll get through your novels twice as fast!
Written by a Bayside IELTS expert, Melbourne