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Some General Advice



The Reading Test takes 60 minutes and is divided into 3 sections with a total length of around 1500-2500 words and a total of 40 questions. The questions get harder as the test progresses.


The passages are taken from journals, books and newspapers, and all should not require any specialist knowledge by the reader.


The reading passage might include diagrams, graphs or charts and one usually includes an argument.


The questions come before and after reading passages.


When specialist or very unusual words are used they are usually explained in a glossary.


There is no extra time at the end of the test to put your answers on the Reading Answer Sheet – so make sure you write ALL your answers on the sheet during the 60 minutes. If you don’t write your answers you will not get any marks.


Do’s and Don’ts




Keep an eye on the time: it will probably seem to pass very quickly, so take care not to spend too much time on any one passage or question. Remember that you only have 60 minutes to answer the questions and to transfer your answers to your Answer Sheet.


Start at the beginning and work through. If you cannot do a particular question leave it and go on to the next. You can then return to that question later if you have time. Put a mark next to this question on the Question Paper so that you can find it again quickly.


Answer as many questions as you can.


Look carefully at the title of the passage and any subtitles and illustrations it may have. You can get a quick idea of what the passage is about from these.


Read the instructions for each set of questions very carefully: it is important to do exactly what you are asked to do.


Remember to skim the questions before reading the passage so that you have a purpose for reading.


Make sure you give the passage a quick read through so that you are familiar with the topic and how it is developed in the passage. An understanding of the text structure can be very helpful in answering the questions.


Use the glossary, if there is one provided, to help you understand unfamiliar words.


Pay attention to any examples that are provided.


Make sure that your answers keep to the word limit: if you are asked for ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS’, for example, then do not write more.


Make sure that you copy words accurately from the text: spelling mistakes will mean that you will lose the mark for that question.


Make sure that where you have to write an answer yourself (e.g. Short-answer Questions, Sentence Completion, Summary Completion), your answer is grammatically correct.




Don't waste time reading the whole passage each time for each set of questions. Remember that many types of questions ask you to locate or check details in the text. In cases like this you need to skim quickly through the passage rather than read the whole thing carefully.


Don't go back to the beginning of the passage for each question when you know from the task type that the answers will come in the order of the information in the passage.


Don't forget that questions can come before the reading passage as well as after.


Don’t become anxious if there are questions you cannot answer. Leave them and move onto the next questions. You can always come back to the ones you couldn’t answer if you have time.


Don’t worry if you don’t understand every word. It may not be necessary to understand all the words in order to answer the questions correctly.


Don’t forget that you must write your answers on your Answer Sheet.


Don’t write more than one word or answer when only one word or answer is required; even if one of your answers is correct, you will not receive a mark.




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