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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


Feb 03 2013

Writing Business E-mails in English, Part 4

Opening and Closing Statements in Business E-mails

Business English e-mails

In Part 4 of Writing Business E-mails in English, we will be looking at opening sentences and closing sentences.  As I mentioned in the earlier posts, this will depend on the tone of your e-mail.  Is it formal or informal?  Do you know the person you are writing to?  The answers to these questions will help you to know which sentences are the most appropriate to use.

Opening Sentences:


You are writing to someone for the first time.  You want to introduce yourself and your company.  For this type of e-mail, you would always use a formal tone.  You don’t need to state your name in the body of your e-mail.  Your name will appear at the end of the e-mail in the signature line.

Incorrect:  Hello, I am Patrick Smith from VRI Petroleum Company.

Correct:     I am the sales manager for VRI Petroleum Company.

You are writing to request information:

Incorrect:  What is your return policy?

Correct:     I am writing to ask about your policy regarding returns.


You are writing to inquire about a job position:


Incorrect:  Hello.  I am interested in information about your company.  Are there any jobs open?

Correct:     I am interested in applying for a position in your company.

Writing Business Emails in EnglishInformal:

Remember in Part 3, I wrote about direct and indirect language.  It’s not good to be too direct, even with someone that you know well.  Let’s look at an example.

You are writing to someone that you already know.  You are writing to request help with a project.


Incorrect:  I want help with a project.

Correct:    I am wondering if you could help me with a project.

You are writing to someone that you know to request more information.

Incorrect:  I want to know the answers to these questions.

Correct:  Could you send me the following information?

Closing Sentences:Writing Business E-mails in English


Let’s now look at formal and informal closing sentences.  This would be the last sentence in your e-mail before the signature line.  When you can, offer thanks for whatever it is that you are writing about.  That is always a good way to close an e-mail.  Even when you are writing about a problem, you can still offer “thanks” in the closing line such as:

  • Thank you for your attention to this matter.
  • Thank you for your prompt response to this issue.
  • I appreciate your assistance with this matter.
  • I look forward to hearing from you.

Let’s look at some formal and informal examples of closing statements.

You are inviting a co-worker to a meeting.

Formal:  I appreciate your consideration of our request.

Informal:  Hope to see you then.

You are requesting information from a client.

Formal:  Thank you for helping us to complete our records.

Informal:  Thanks.

You are requesting more information about a product.

Formal:  I appreciate your kindness and support.

Informal:  Thanks for your help.

You are writing an e-mail to someone to request an appointment.

Formal:  I look forward to contacting you next week to set up an appointment.

Informal:  I’ll be giving you a call next week to set something up.

In the next post, we will look at the body of the e-mail and “calls to action”.  Be sure to give Worldwide English a call if you are a professional working in the Houston, Texas area.

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