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IELTS Reading: the time problem

 'Not having enough time' is the biggest problem for most people taking the reading test. Here are some tips for dealing with this problem:

  1. Go straight to the first question. Don't waste time reading the full passage or the first sentence of each paragraph, and don't read any of the other questions.
  2. Do 'paragraph' questions last. Questions that ask you to match headings or statements with paragraphs are much easier if you are already familiar with the passage.
  3. Don't get stuck on one question. As soon as you realise that you are having difficulties with a question, leave it and move to the next one. Return to difficult questions later if you have time.
  4. Remember that the answers to most question sections are in order in the passage. You don't need to go back to the beginning of the passage to search for each answer.
  5. Only skim or scan for numbers and names. Otherwise, read at normal speed.
  6. Work with an alarm. You can't do this in an exam, but at home you could set the alarm (on your phone) for 2 minutes and try to do each question within this time.

When preparing for the reading test at home, try not to worry about time at first. Your first concern should be to get the score you need, even if it takes you 3 hours instead of 1 hour to do a full test.

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