If you’re not a big fan of reading and are thinking of doing the IELTS test soon, then my advice would be to start practising immediately. This does not mean that you should pick up a comic book or scroll down comments on the social media feed on your platform. To do better at language skills means that you would have to read intelligently, and this involves reading the right text in the right genre. Luckily, the IELTS test encompasses a whole range of topics that candidates could read about: from science and technology to celebrity and fame. However, the clever IELTS candidate does not tend to narrow down the topics that they read. Instead, they follow the figure of speech: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This is normally used to refer to a person who has very good broad knowledge but is not an expert in any. And this is what the IELTS test wants to gauge: how well candidates are able to talk about themselves and express their opinions on an array of issues for discussion. Candidates are not expected to have an in-depth or technical understanding of matters being discussed during the test but they ARE expected to communicate well.
Here are five ways that IELTS test takers can put themselves at an advantage through reading:
1) Reading builds sentence skills
The more you read, the more your eyes and mind are exposed to how ideas are formed in sentence patterns. Rather than studying meticulous grammar to put together accurate sentences, reading helps the reader to have a sense of what “feels” appropriate or otherwise. According to research, reading and writing are two skills that are closely and tightly connected to each other (Yoshimura, 2009; Ghorbani et al., 2013) and that the improvement of one leads to the development of the other (Habibi, et al., 2015). So, the more you read the better your chances are at constructing appropriate sentences.
2) Reading leads to better vocabulary
Similarly, not only does reading help the IELTS candidate improve their sentence skills, it may also develop their range of vocabulary as well. Consistent exposure to new words used in various contexts can increase your mental dictionary and result in the test taker being a better communicator in writing as well as speaking.
3) Reading enables quicker scanning for information
You are probably already doing this when scrolling down your phone, searching for a particular piece of information really fast. If this is a daily habit done for English texts, then you are training your eyes to the benefits of scanning to locate something very quickly. Pair this practice with a timer and see how fast you are able to answer questions when doing an IELTS reading task.
4) Reading improves skimming techniques
Skimming involves rapid eye movements that enable readers to determine the general information within a section or a page. The reader will be able to discern content pages, visual clues such as tables or other illustrations, font including boldface and italics, and bullet points. This rapid reading strategy is useful for candidates hoping to advance to higher studies where skimming is an essential skill. Skimming through reference books is essential for written assignments or dissertations.
5) Reading expands general knowledge
Learning new things and having new information would increase a person’s understanding of things and perhaps even solve problems through analytical skills. With a rise in cumulative knowledge through regular reading practice, the average reader can be a better communicator and this would definitely be an advantage for the reader-candidate in the IELTS speaking test.
In fact, by reading this article now, you are already practising an essential skill to find out how to improve your IELTS performance. You can continue this useful habit by reading more posts on The IELTS Tutor blog to not only discover what you can do or should avoid doing in the test, but also to develop your reading proficiency and improve your overall IELTS test performance.
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Until next time!