Reading and Writing – The painful areas of IELTS Exam

Each of the four components of IELTS Exam–listening, speaking, reading and writing, are easy and are difficult in their own way. Everybody has a unique skill set and hence some may find reading difficult where others find difficulty in attempting the writing test. It completely varies from person to person. However, speaking, the two modules where students across the globe seem to face issues are Reading and Writing.

So, let’s explore the common problem areas in Reading and Writing modules and try to figure out how to tackle these.

The biggest issue that students usually face during the Reading test is Time! It can seem very difficult to read the passages and find the answers to 40 questions in 60 minutes!

However, it’s important to understand that you need not read, or understand, every word of each passage. Instead, you need to understand what the question is asking you to do, and then identify the part of the passage where you will find the answer.

Another common mistake that candidates make is to spend too much time looking for the answer to a single question, especially if it’s difficult. Instead of trying (and maybe failing) to find the answer to a tough question, you could answer two or three easier questions. Every question is worth one mark, so they are all equally important. If you can’t find the answer to a question, waste no more time–just move on to the next one. You can always come back to it later, or you can guess!

You will also need to transfer your answers to the answer sheet during the sixty minutes (unlike in the listening exam where you are given extra time). It is essential that you do this–the worst thing that can happen is that you have an empty answer sheet at the end, even though you might have found the correct answers! You can either transfer your answers after you finish each passage, or transfer them all together at the end–but if you do this, allow yourself enough time. Don’t wait until you have only a few minutes left, because if you copy your answers in a hurry, you are much more likely to make mistakes. You will lose marks for spelling mistakes, or for writing the right answer in the wrong place. One other thing is that you should never leave an answer blank–if you couldn’t find the answer or you didn’t have time, just guess. Leaving it blank means you will get nothing, but if you guess you might be lucky!

 However, all you need is a structured approach of handling comprehension passage!!

  • Don’t waste time understanding the full passage – breaking down of passages into paragraphs and paragraphs further into fundamental ideas and supporting details.
  • Try to understand the meaning of words from the context.
  • Do not waste time into deep reading or retention of facts and figures
  • Manage time appropriately–you have approximately 20 minutes for a passage, which includes the time needed to transfer your answers. Stick to the time limit!
  • Practice as many IELTS mock tests you can till you get a hang of it by following the above points

The next problem area is writing!!   A lot of many test takers have experienced that the writing section is the toughest or the most difficult part of the IELTS exam. Rest of the sections can still be managed with constant practice. To write something perfect you need to have:

  • an imaginative mind,
  • the right expression,
  • technique and skilful usage of the right words.

Few people who appear for the test have a natural flair for writing, so they have to learn the skill. Also, learning to write requires:

  • the perfect blend of correct grammar,
  • punctuations at the right places and
  • robust vocabulary
  • as this makes the writing impressive.

That being said, having rich vocabulary and accurate grammar isn’t enough to succeed in IELTS. The writing section in the academic IELTS exam also tests your ability to organize your ideas and communicate your ideas appropriately! To know how to handle the writing section well, a candidate must know the writing format, like when you are writing a report you need to organize the information properly. Which means the details need to be elaborated like the first paragraph becomes the introduction, then an overview, and then the body containing the facts along with the changes in trends.

Sure enough, all these factors make writing a daunting task!  

To add to this, it is even hard to know how good you are in IELTS writing. For example, with reading, you can surf various sites that have comprehension passages and you can predict precisely where you stand. However, in writing, unless a writing skill expert tests your essay, you do not know how good your essay is! More often than not, students often make far more mistakes than they realize. Things like capitalization in the sentences and some silly spelling errors wretch in when you are focused on an idea that you want to convey. Hence, it is essential that you practice as many mock tests before the exam and get them tested by an expert.

Some generic advice for the writing skill exam:

  • The first thing you should do is to read the instructions for the task carefully and underline or circlethe keywords–this will help you focus on what you need to write about. One of the most common mistakes that candidates make is not answering the task correctly, or answering it incompletely, because they haven’t read the question properly. If this happens, you will lose marks–so be careful! 
  • Next, spend some time planning your answer. It’s very tempting to write immediately, but this really isn’t a good idea–you need to think about what information or ideas you will include, how you will structure your answer and what language you will use. Smart preparation will improve your odds of getting a good IELTS band score.  
  • Organize your time so you have enough time to answer both tasks. Another common mistake is for candidates to spend too much time on one task, so they don’t have enough time for the other. Task 2 is worth twice as many marks as Task 1, so spend about 40 minutes on Task 2, and twenty minutes on Task 1. 

If you follow these simple guidelines, then trust me Reading and Writing for IELTS get easier at all! All you need is a bit of hard work with a lot of smart work!!

Leave a Comment