IELTS General: Reading Tips

IELTS Reading Tips: True, False, Not Given Question Types

For me, this category of questions was the trickiest to scale when practising for the General IELTS exam. To give myself some direction, I’ve compiled a number of tips to help me scale this section. I hope you find them useful:

  1. The answer to a statement is not always in one sentence. You may need to read wide and around the passage to understand what it’s really about before you start answering the questions
  2. To answer false, the statement must contradict (or be the opposite of) what was stated in the passage.
  3. ALL of the statement has to tally with what has been given in the passage for it to be considered true. Otherwise, the answer could be false or not given. The fact that the statement does not match exactly what is in the passage does not mean that it is false. It could just mean that sufficient information is not available for you to conclude on what is in the statement, in which case your answer should always be “Not given”.
  4. Understand the statement completely before you try to find answers for it in the passage though some would ask that you read the passage first. Find out what works for you and stick with it.
  5. Read the whole question. Do NOT focus on key words. Think about the meaning of the question.
  6. Be especially careful with words such as “often”, “All”and “some”. They can change the meaning of the question dramatically.
  7. Be careful with questions beginning “The writer says”. Here, you are asked to decipher the writer’s opinion and not facts
  8. The questions will follow the order of the text. This will help you refer to relevant sections of the text if you are confused.
  9. Be aware that keeping to time is a choice. If you are genuinely confused, skip the question, place a mark on it and come back to it at the end.
  10. Do not spend too long on any one question. If the answer is “Not Given”, there may be nothing for you to find.
  11. One possibility is to mark all the “True” answers you are sure of and all the “False” answers and then guess “Not Given” for the others. This is however, a last ditch effort approach.
  12. Always look out for synonyms when reading and answering questions
  13. Don’t make connections between sentences where there are none. The fact that one sentence follows another does not necessarily mean that one implies another e.g.“Skating & Ice-hockey were successfully included in the Games in 1920. But generally winter sports were felt to be too specialized.” The statement “Antwerp Games proved that winter sports were too specialised” is clearly wrong. Don’t be deceived!
  14. Whenever you have identified a sentence to be true. Don’t hang on to the truth of it! Read the entire paragraph to see if there’s anything that contradicts it. You don’t need to understand the contradiction - you will waste time. Any conflicting information in the same paragraph should be marked as false. If you don’t know where to check in the text for the answer you need, use the clues in the question to guide you to specific areas in the text. The answer you need may involve combining separate portions of the text to arrive at the correct meaning
  15. Be comfortable with skimming text to get the overall meaning and underlining keywords – this will help you find answers with ease when you need to.
  16. Always read with a question in mind or you will waste valuable time
  17. This might seem obvious but you should read the instructions and examples carefully.

IELTS Listening Tips

Dear Reader,

Here are my best tips for scaling the IELTS Listening Exam. Hope you find them as useful as I have:

  1. Make sure you read the listening section to make sure the rules of grammar are followed for example, don’t just write “radio” when it’s “the radio” that fits the sentence - check for grammar.
  2. Check your grammar and transfer your answers wisely
  3. Spelling is important - check your spelling!
  4. Read the instructions - Are you to provide a letter containing the answer or the full content of the answer
  5. Don’t try to understand everything - The objective is to listen for the answer and take note of it as soon as you hear it.
  6. Before you listen to the recording, read the questions. This will help you understand what exactly to look out for when the recording begins. You can do this by underlining keywords in the question to look for/listen for.
  7. Take note of your answers quickly - Don’t listen for the answer in your head. Once the speaker says something that might be the answer, note it down and if this changes further down the line, note it down as well, otherwise, the first option might very well be the answer.
  8. Look out for answers which are plural. IELTS know that students have difficulty hearing the plural “s”. So, these answers will certainly be given to test your listening ability.
  9. Answers can come quickly - meaning you should make notes quickly. I’d rather note them down quickly than slowly to avoid missing out on any part of the recording.

Good luck with your exam!

PTE - Read Aloud: Tips & Strategies That Work

For the read aloud section of PTE, here are some tips to help you sail through:

  1. Start reading the text before the microphone opens - pronounce difficult words
  2. Understand the text - you can only deliver the text convincingly if you understand what you have read
  3. Take a deep breath before speaking - this will help you speak clearly
  4. Speak at a natural rate, you will have enough time but always keep your eyes on the timer
  5. Imagine that you are speaking to an audience and that you need them to understand what you are reading
  6. Speak out loud - don't speak softly
  7. Continue reading even if you make a mistake.
  8. Use the punctuations to guide how you read.

PTE - Academic Retell Lecture Tips & Strategies That Work

For this item type, you will have:

  1. 10s to prepare
  2. 40s to give your response
  3. about 3 lectures in total


1.   Include the main points of the lecture

2.   Don’t repeat/correct yourself – keep talking and ignore any mistakes you make

3.   Include facts, figures, dates and numbers as they should be easy to note down

Strategies that work

Listen very carefully. Write down:

1. The main idea / topic

The speaker was discussing TOPIC

2. Five important keywords

He/She mentioned KEYWORD 1

He/She described KEYWORD 2

He/She said KEYWORD 3

He/She talked about KEYWORD 4

He/She suggested that KEYWORD 5

For example:

The speaker was discussing the cause of the civil war in Syria.

He mentioned that there were a wide range of cultures in Syria.

He described the various communities in Syria.

He talked about how it was unclear how the civil war started.

He discussed the sectarian hatred in Syria.

He suggested that the key reason for the war was architecture.

The Ultimate Guide To Scoring 90 In PTE Academic Listening

I scored 90 in the listening section of the PTE Academic Exam.

Even though it was surprising, I sort of expected it. During the practice sessions, I spent the least amount of time with the listening section because I knew it was my strong point.

This post contains the tips that helped me achieve a high score in PTE listening. I hope they work for you as well. This post presumes that you already have some information on what the structure of the exam is like and so will not delve into this.

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TOEFL iBT: Tips For Acing The Writing Section

It's important to understand how TOEFL essays are scored in order to produce a high-scoring essay. Scores are granted by taking the following into consideration:

  1. Development: Use of examples, details and reasons that support your ideas
  2. Organization: Your essay should be organized and easy to follow; avoid repetition of ideas and unclear connections
  3. Language Use: use different sentence structures, word choices, use more complex vocabulary to how your lexical range.
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