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Struggling with IELTS Reading? Watch this video and try out this radical strategy. It’s super simple and effective, you’ll wish you’d known about it sooner!

How it works

The key to this strategy is reading the text – the WHOLE text – once. As you read each paragraph, you should try and deal with all the question types one by one. In other words, don’t look at question 1 and then try to find the answer in the text. Instead, look at part of the text, and then try to answer as many questions as possible before moving on. We call this strategy ‘Paragraph by Paragraph’. It’s especially useful when you’re dealing with two particular types of questions: Match Headings and Match Information.

Why it works

These two types of questions require you to really read to understand the text. You can’t simply use keywords in the questions to scan. For instance, in the example from the video, question 1 asks you to find the paragraph that contains: ‘a contrast between different types of AI art’. If you scan for ‘AI art’, you’ll find it mentioned everywhere. If you look for the word ‘contrast’, you won’t find it anywhere! In other words, looking for keywords is a waste of time here. In this type of question, you really need to understand what you’re reading. It’s not about matching words or synonyms.


 If you start with question 1, and try to scan for keywords, you’ll waste a lot of time!

So, if you’re going to read each paragraph carefully, then it makes sense to deal with all the questions you can so that you don’t need to keep returning and re-reading.

I should point out here that most IELTS Reading texts (in the Academic test and Section 3 of General) have 2-4 different types of questions. So you might have Match Headings, Multiple Choice and True, False, Not Given. In the reading in our video, we tackled Match Information, Match Features and Sentence Completion. In the downloadable sample below, there’s also an extra Multiple Choice question.

You would have noticed that the questions didn’t come in order in Match Information and Match Features, but they do come in order for almost all other types of questions, except Match Headings. However, keep in mind that even though most question types do come in order, they will not always follow on from the questions before. In other words, one paragraph may contain answers from several sets of questions.

That’s why this strategy can be so handy! If you train yourself to read actively and to resist the urge to go back and re-read over and over, you’ll find the paragraph by paragraph strategy a winner.

Try it yourself!

Click here to download the paper-delivered version of the reading text from our video. To see the computer-delivered version, simply watch the video!

Download the E2 IELTS Topic Toolkit: Art

It contains essay topics, speaking questions, links to art-related resources, a sample Task 2 essay and 20 useful words about art. 

Want more IELTS vocabulary tips? Watch this


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