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Mar 04 2018

IELTS Reading Test- Tips and Strategies

IELTS Reading Test Preparation from English Lessons Houston

Here are IELTS Reading Test Preparation tips and strategies to help you improve your score on the IELTS Reading Test  from Worldwide English in Houston.  The time allowed for the IELTS Academic Reading section is one hour.  The IELTS Reading test section consists of three different reading passages and a total of 40 questions.  Each question is worth one point.

The three texts are graded from easiest to most difficult.  At least one text contains a detailed logical argument.  One of the reading texts contains an illustration.

The following is an overview of the types of tasks you will find in the Reading section of the IELTS:

Multiple choice
  • You will be asked to choose one correct answer from four choices.
  • Or, you will be asked to choose two correct answers from five choices.
  • Or, you will be asked to choose three correct answer from seven choices.
Identifying Information
  • You will be asked to choose whether a statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN.
Identifying the writer’s point of view or opinion.
  • You will state whether a statement AGREES with the writer’s opinion (YES), DISAGREES with the writer’s opinion (NO), or whether there is no information given (NOT GIVEN).
Matching information:
  • Match information to a paragraph in the text.
Matching features:
  • Match a main idea from a list of possible answers to a paragraph or section of the passage.  
Matching sentence endings:
  • Complete a sentence with the best answer from a group of choices.
Sentence completion:
  • Complete a sentence with a word or words from a group of choices.
  • Complete sentences with the appropriate word or words.
Label diagrams
  • Choose the best label for a diagram from a group of answers.
Short answers
  • Answer questions using words from the passage.

Strategies to improve your score on the IELTS Reading test.

  1. Timing is very important on the IELTS Reading test. Try to finish each section in 20 minutes.
  2. Questions on the IELTS Reading Test are almost always in order. That means that the first questions will be about the beginning of the passage and the later questions will be about the middle and end of the reading passage.
  3. Read the passage in about three minutes. Next, look at the questions and see what type of information you are looking for.  Spend about 12-13 minutes answering the questions.
  4. If you don’t know the answer to a question, just move on. Use your last four minutes to check your answers and answer any questions that you didn’t complete.
  5. If the question asks you to write two words and/or a number. For example, if the questions is, “What two animals were used in the laboratory test?”  The answer should be “rats, mice”.  Do not answer, “rats and mice”.
  6. You can take a highlighter pen to the test with you. Use it to highlight key words and ideas.  This will make it easier to find the answers later.
  7. When you are asked to write one word for the answer, be sure to write only one word.
  8. Look for linking words in the IELTS Reading test that will help to locate supporting details and linking ideas. For example, you might see words and phrases like “for example, as a result, furthermore, in addition”.
  9. For matching questions, you will need to look at the whole reading passage.
  10. For summary questions, read the title of the summary and look for the words in the title as you read the passage.
  11. Hyphenated words count as one word on the IELTS Reading test. For example, “long-term, work-related, after-school”.
  12. Section 3 is the most difficult passage. You may want to spend 18 minutes on passage 1, 18 minutes on passage 2 and 22 minutes on passage 3 so that you will have enough time for each passage.


If you are in Houston, Texas please call us for private English lessons.  We can help you to prepare for the IELTS exam.  For more information, visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com


Sep 27 2017

TOEFL Test Reading for Details

TOEFL Test Reading for Details


Hi Students!  Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL exam?  As you know, there are four sections in the exam:  Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.  In this lesson, we will study how to answer “detail” questions.  “Detail” questions ask you about specific information in the passage.

Here are important tips and strategies to answer detail questions.

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually begin with the words, “According to the passage….”

Example:  According to the passage, who often conducted education in the American South before the Civil War?

TOEFL Reading Details

  • To answer TOEFL detail questions, look for the key words used in the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Note:  scan the passage for “The Harvard School of Business”.


Strategy:  Scan the passage, meaning move your eyes quickly over the passage, until you find the key word or words you are looking for.  For example, it can be a name, date or number.

  • Remember, that it is not necessary to read the whole passage again on the TOEFL Reading passages. Just find the key words.


  • Look for similar words, but not the exact same words as the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Strategy:  Look for synonym for the words “support” and donations.  For example, Support may be assistance or help, and donations may be financial gifts.


TOEFL Reading Details

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually appear in the order of the information in the passage. Therefore,  the answer to the first detail question will be found near the beginning of the passage, and the answer to the second detail question will come after that.

  • If the question contains the words “not” or “except”, choose the answer that is not true or not mentioned in the passage.

Example:  According to the passage, all of the following were sometimes substituted for books EXCEPT

According to the passage, which of the following is NOT mentioned as something that is measured by a polygraph machine?

Strategy:  Remember that three of the answers are mentioned in the passage,  and the one that is NOT mentioned is the correct answer.  The three answers that are mentioned will be stated in different words, but will mean the same thing.

TOEFL Reading Details

Let’s look at a short passage and answer the detail question:

Cellular slime molds are extraordinary life forms that exhibit features of both fungi and protozoa, although often classed for convenience with fungi.  At one time, they were regarded as organisms of ambiguous taxonomic status, but more recent analysis of DNA sequences has shown that slime molds should be regarded as inhabiting their own separate kingdoms.


According to the passage, in the past slime molds were classified as

  1. unknown
  2. uncertain
  3. controversial
  4. unfamiliar


There is another word in the passage that means the same as “uncertain”.  That word is “ambiguous”.  If you know the meaning of the word ambiguous, you will know that the answer is B.  uncertain.   Further, the word “classified” in the question is “regarded” in the passage


That’s our lesson on TOEFL Reading for Details!

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us at Worldwide English for private English lessons.  We offer private lessons and SKYPE lessons to student living outside of Houston, worldwide!  You can call and have a free consultation on SKYPE or in person.  We come to your home or office to give you private lessons.

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Aug 27 2012

Reading Tips for ESL Students

Hi ESL Students and Teachers,

Here is a reading tip to help you become more accustomed to “real life” reading in the USA.  Scholastic News has news stories that are written for kids and teens.  The English is easier to understand.  The stories are interesting, current and easy to read!  Enjoy!

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more news

August 23, 2012

Teen Texters Face Off

A Wisconsin teen wins national texting title for the second year in a row

More From Our News Archive

Aug 24 2012

My Favorite ESL Reading Textbook

Here’s my favorite reading/vocabulary textbook to teach regular and business English students.  The title of the series is All about the USA written by Milada Broukal who is also one of my favorite ESL textbook writers.  I like everything she’s created.  Be sure to get the most recent 2nd edition.

English Lessons Houston