IELTS General Training Reading Tips For Section 2

The IELTS General Training Reading test takes 60 minutes. It is divided into three sections.

♦ Section 1: has short texts which come from advertisements, timetables, instruction manuals and the like.

♦ Section 2: has longer texts (usually two texts of about 500 words each) which give information and advice about education and training.

♦ Section 3: has one longer text (about 700 words) with more complex language and structure. The text will be about a general topic and will come from sources like general interest magazines.

There are between 38 and 42 questions to answer. The questions may come before or after the reading texts. There is a variety of questions. Often there are examples of how to answer the questions.

You may mark or write on the question paper, but all answers must be written on the answer sheet.

To complete Section 2 of the Reading test successfully, you should follow a three-step strategy similar to the one practiced in Section 1.

+ Step 1: Survey the text

+ Step 2: Read the questions

+ Step 3: Answer the questions by scanning for specific information or Identifying main ideas by skimming

In this section you will learn the skill of skimming. Scanning and skimming are used by native speakers to get information from texts more quickly.

A common cause of failure in the IELTS Reading test is bad time management, resulting in candidates not finishing all the questions. Unless you are a very fast reader, you will not have tune to read the texts in Sections 2 and 3 carefully from beginning to end. It is, however, not necessary to do so. You only need to read enough to find the answers to the questions.

So, for the following demonstration, do not read the demonstration text and questions first. Go directly to the How to Answer section on page 20, and refer back to the reading text as instructed.

Demonstration – Text and Questions

                                                                            THINGS TO EXPECT IN AUSTRALIA

A. Australia is a relatively safe place, something which surveys of overseas students have shown that they value greatly.

As in most of the industrialized countries, Australia has experienced a serious economic recession making many people unemployed. This has caused a small increase in tire amount of petty crime, but in comparison with the USA, UK, Europe or almost anywhere else in the Western world the problem remains limited.

B. The opportunity to work while studying in order to help cover expenses is one which overseas students welcome. Australia is comparatively generous in this regard, especially since changes to government policy in February 1991. All overseas students, irrespective of which country they come from and what they intend to study, may work for up to 20 hours per week during semesters and full-time during vacations and other course breaks. Part-time study is not permitted on a student visa.

C. Finding work in a different country can be trying, and if it is essential for survival the pressure that it creates can be a worry. Most campuses maintain a part- time work agency, but the number of jobs available from place to place varies. Generally, it is not easy to find work at the moment because Australia is experiencing an economic recession. More than half of Australia’s visiting students say that they take advantage of the right to work, but it is hard to know for certain how much they do or what they earn.

D. Multiculturalism is official government policy despite the strong British heritage stemming from Australia’s colonial origins. There are now more than 100 different ethnic groups represented in Australia, and much of the increase in diversity occurred during the last generation or two. Just after the Second World War, Australia had a population of only 7.1 million. Now there are more than 17 million people; new immigrants and their children account for about half of that growth. One authority has written recently: ‘On the whole the interaction of old and new Australians has been achieved with a minimum of conflict—migration has worked.’

E. The friendliness of the Australian people is something which surveys of tourists show to be one of the main and most favorable impressions of visitors. Overseas students back that up, as student survey results show. In 1984 more than 1000 overseas students were asked their opinion of Australians, and were also asked to describe the attitudes of Australians towards them. The results of the survey appear in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Attitudes of overseas students towards Australians

Positive

       like them a lot                          20 %

       tend to like them                     56 %

Indifferent                                       21 %

Negative

       tend to dislike them                 2 %

      dislike them a lot                       –

Attitudes of Australians to overseas students

Positive

       very accepting                          16 %

       fairly friendly                           62 %

Indifferent                                       13 %

Negative

       a bit unfriendly                         8 %

      very unfriendly                           1 %

Surveys have found that between 80 and 90 per cent of overseas students who have studied in Australia would recommend that friends and other family members should study there. Similar proportions say that if they were to migrate permanently they would choose Australia.

Questions 1-4: The passage has five paragraphs labelled A to E. Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list by writing the appropriate number (i-viii).

Note: There are more headings than paragraphs so you will not use all of them. You may use any of the headings more than once.

    List of headings

i. Jobs are hard to find

ii. Security

iii. Racial Prejudice

iv. Work Regulations for Overseas Students

v. Part-time Students

vi. Cultural Diversity

vii. Positive Impressions of Overseas Students Towards Australians

viii. The Australian Personality

Example Answer: paragraph A – ii

1. paragraph B

2. paragraph C

3. paragraph D

4. paragraph E

Questions 5-8: Using information from the reading passage, complete the following sentences in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS

5. Australia’s economic recession has led to an increase in ……………..

6. In February 1991, the Australian Government passed a law permitting overseas students ………………

7. A holder of a student visa is not allowed to …………………

8. Seventy-eight per cent of Australians had positive feelings about ……………….

How to Answer  

Before you try to answer any questions

Step 1 – Survey the text

The title. Things to expect in Australia’, tells you that the text contains information for visitors to Australia.

The words in bold type at the beginning of each paragraph give you a good idea of what kind of information is given in that paragraph.

                                                                                                              Topic

Australia is a relatively safe place…                                     safety, security

The opportunity to work while studying…                         students working

Finding work in a different country can be trying…         finding a job overseas

Multiculturalism is official government policy…              many cultures in Australia

The friendliness of the Australian people…                       Australians

Figure 1 is part of the last paragraph. It gives information about what overseas students think about Australians and what Australians think about overseas students.

Question 1

Step 2—Read the instructions and the question

For questions 1-4, you must match the headings with the paragraphs. The purpose of the heading is to indicate the main idea or topic of the paragraph.

To answer the question you must write only a number (i,ii,iii etc.), not the complete heading. Look at the example:

Example Answer: paragraph A – ii

Step 3—Look for the answer

1. Look at the first sentence of a paragraph. (Since paragraph A has been done in the example go directly to paragraph B.)

You already know from the survey that the topic of paragraph B is students working. The rest of the first sentence:

The opportunity to work while studying in order to help cover expenses is one which overseas students welcome.

gives the additional information that the writer is referring to overseas students working (to get extra money for living expenses).

2. With this idea in mind, look quickly through the rest of the paragraph. This confirms that the topic of the paragraph is students and work and the main idea is Australian government policy and regulations on this topic.

3. Consider the list of headings. Heading i—Jobs are Hard to Find—is relevant to the topic work, but the idea of work being hard to find does not match the main idea of the paragraph. Heading iv—Work Regulations for Overseas Students—is an accurate description of the topic and main idea of paragraph B and is therefore the correct answer.

Question 2

Step 2—Read the question

Step 3—Look for the answer

1. The first sentence in paragraph C is:

             funding work in a different country can be trying, and if it is essential for survival the pressure that creates can be a worry.

We can guess that the main topic of this paragraph is die pressure (or the problems) of finding work.

2. Keeping this main topic in mind, look quickly through the rest of the paragraph. This confirms that the topic is still the difficulty of finding work.

3. Look through the remaining headings (not headings ii and iv since they have already been used). Jobs are Hard to Find (i) is the correct answer.

Question 3

Step 2—Read the question

Step 3—Look for the answer

1. The first sentence of paragraph D:

Multiculturalism is official government policy despite the strong British heritage stemming from Australia’s colonial origins.

tells us the paragraph probably talks about there being many cultures and government policy in relation to those cultures.

2. With this main idea in mind, look quickly through the rest of the paragraph. This confirms that the topic is still the mixture of migrant groups.

3. Look through the remaining headings. The headings Part-time Students (v), Positive Impressions of Overseas Students Towards Australians (vii) and The Australian Personality (viii) can be rejected immediately because they are in no way related to the topic of the paragraph.

Heading iii, Racial Prejudice, is related to the topic of the paragraph, but prejudice is a negative idea, and in the paragraph the writer uses positive words and phrases, ‘interaction’, ‘achieved’, ‘migration has worked’. Heading vi. Cultural Diversity, is also related to the topic. If you do not know what ‘diversity’ means (it means variety) then the word ‘culture’ is enough to give you a match here. So the correct answer is vi.

Question 4

Step 2—Read the question

Step 3—Look for the answer

1. The first sentence says drat tourists have favorable (positive) impressions (opinions) about Australians being friendly.

The friendliness of the Australian people is something which surveys of tourists show to be one of the main and most favorable impressions of visitors.

2. Look at the rest of the paragraph and the figure. The use of the results of surveys and students’ opinions supports the main idea that visitors like Australia and its people.

3. Of the remaining headings: heading iii, Racial Prejudice, is negative so cannot be correct and heading viii, The Australian Personality, is possible if you look only at the first sentence of die paragraph. However, the rest of the paragraph, including Figure 1, is about the positive impressions of overseas students. Heading vii, Positive Impressions of Overseas Students Towards Australians, is the correct answer.

Question 5

Step 2—Read the instructions and the question

The instructions tell you to complete the given sentence in no more than three words. Your answer should be grammatically correct. Since you are looking for specific information from the text you have to scan the text for the answer. The key words in question 5 are underlined:

Australia’s economic recession has led to an increase in …

You are looking for a consequence or result of economic recession, in particular something which has increased

Step 3—Look for die answer

If you know approximately where to begin scanning in the relevant paragraph, you will be able to find the key words you are looking for much more efficiently and quickly. In this instance there arc two ways to find the answer.

You might remember seeing the words ‘economic recession’ in paragraph C, and if so you can go directly to this paragraph and begin scanning for the key words or their synonyms. Even if you did not see the words in the text, you might still be able to guess that the subject of economic recession is relevant to the paragraph which talks about the problems of finding work in Australia (paragraph C).

In paragraph C, the relevant sentence says that ‘it is not easy to find work at the moment’ because of the economic recession. If jobs are hard to find, this means that unemployment has increased—the answer would be unemployment.

If you have no idea where to start scanning, you should start at the beginning of the text. If you begin scanning from the beginning of the text you see that the word ‘recession’ is also mentioned in paragraph A. Here it says that the recession has made ‘many people unemployed’. You should write only the word ‘unemployment’ on your answer sheet.

Question 6

Step 2—Read the question

The key words in the question are:

In February 1991, the Australian Government passed a law permitting overseas students …

Step 3—Find the answer

Scanning for the date (numbers are much easier to find in a text than key words), we find it in paragraph B. In die sentence with the date, and the sentence before it, we see that the government made it easier for overseas students to work. The correct answer is therefore to work.

Question 7

Step 2—Read the question

The key words in the question are:

A holder of a student visa is not allowed to …

Step 3—Find the answer

You may remember seeing the words ‘student visa’ in the paragraph about working while studying (paragraph B). Even if you did not sec these words in die text, you might still be able to guess that the subject of student visas is relevant to this paragraph. If this, too, is not clear, then you should start at the beginning of the text and scan for the key words above, or their synonyms.

The words ‘student visa’ are at the end of paragraph B. Here you will also see the words ‘not permitted’, which arc a synonym of other key words in the question, ‘not allowed’. The last sentence, ‘Part-time study is not permitted on a student visa’, says that you cannot study part-time on a student visa. The correct answer is therefore study part-time.

Question 8

Step 2—Read the question

The key words are:

Seventy-eight per cent of Australians had positive feelings about …

Step 3—Find the answer

From what you already know about tire text, you can guess that tire answer to this question will be in the last paragraph. You should scan this paragraph for the figure 78.

Actually, the number is not mentioned in the last paragraph. The final part of the last paragraph mentions ‘between 80 and 90 per cent of overseas students’ but this does not help. The only other place that percentages are mentioned is in the table. The answer is in the second half of the table, which Iras details about die attitude of Australians toward overseas students. If you add together the percentages in the positive section, you gee 78%. The answer is therefore overseas students.

Analysis and Practice

Section 2 of the Reading test usually has two reading texts. Each text usually has only one type of question. (The previous Demonstration text had two question types for convenience.) The kinds of questions most common in Section 2 are:

Questions about specific information

• completing sentences (see questions 5-8 in the Section 2 Demonstration)

• True/False/Not Given (see Section 1)

• matching pieces of specific information (there will be some examples of this in Section 3)

• other question types as in Section 1

Questions about main ideas

• matching headings with paragraphs (see questions 1-4 in the Section 2 Demonstration)

• identifying where to find information (these will be discussed later in this section)

The most efficient strategies for answering specific information questions are different from the strategies for main idea questions. Therefore, when you start Section 2 of the reading test, you should look briefly at the questions to see what type of questions they are. Then you can apply the most suitable strategies.

Also, the first part of the instructions which tell you how to answer the questions will often mention the subject or the source of the text. For an example, look at the text ‘Careers Information Program’ on page 36. This information can help you to understand the text more quickly.

We will now look at how to answer each of the question types mentioned opposite.

Questions about specific information

As in Section 1, for these questions you should:

• survey the text

• read the question

• scan for die answer.

Step 1—Survey the text look at:

• the title

• section headings or subheadings

• any words in special print (bold, italics, CAPITALS or underlined!

• any diagrams, tables or pictures in the text

• any unusual features in the text (e.g. layout or boxes).

The texts in Section 2 are usually longer than the texts in Section 1. It is therefore also useful, while surveying, to get an idea of the organisation of the text, namely, what topics are discussed and in what older. (Note that you are trying to identify topics only.) This will help you know where (in which paragraph or section) to scan later for the answer to a question.

If the text has a lot of subheadings, it is much easier to identify text organisation.

ACTIVITY 9

Only the title and the section headings remain of the following text. Survey the text by looking at this information and then answer the questions.

Time target: 1 minute

               HOW TO REVISE FOR EXAMS

a. Your attitude

b. Stress and self-confidence

c. Reviewing study material

d. How to revise

e. How to remember

f. Structuring exam essays

g. Practising long exam essays

h. Concentration

i. Working with others

j. Having a balanced timetable

Questions 1-5: In which section(s) would you look to find an answer for a question about:

1. techniques for improving your memory?

2. how to practice answering exam questions?

3. study groups?

4. study hours?

5. personal and psychological factors?

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Note: If the text has no subheadings, or very few subheadings, then you can still get an idea of the text’s organization quickly by reading the first sentence of each paragraph. Remember the first sentence of a paragraph in many English texts will give you the main topic or main idea of that paragraph.

ACTIVITY 10

Only parts (the first sentence from each paragraph) of the following text are showing. Read them and answer the questions.

Time target: 2-3 minutes

                                                                 FIRST DEGREE COURSES

COURSES

1. First degrees are the first degree you can take after leaving school, unlike a higher degree or masters degree.

2. Arts, social science and pure science degrees normally last three years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland because they arc designed to follow a very specialized school-leaving qualification.

3. First degree courses that include professional training take longer.

4. Apart from undergraduate courses, there is a second type of higher educational qualification in the UK known as the Higher National Diploma or HND

TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

5. UK universities and colleges use a range of teaching methods.

LECTURES—

SEMINARS—

TUTORIALS—

6. Assessment of students’ work may be done in several different ways, but most universities still use some form of written examination.

7. ‘Continuous assessment’ is an increasingly popular method of assessment.

8. Many first degree honors courses require students to write a dissertation, which is an extended essay on a subject of the student’s choice (chosen in consultation staff).

Questions 1-5: In which paragraph would you look to answer a question about

1. the length of certain degree courses?

2. job training?

3. the Higher National Diploma?

4. how teachers teach?

5. assessment?

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Step 2—Read the question Remember to

• underline key words

• read only one question and then find the answer to that question before you read the next

Step 3—Find the answer

For questions asking about specific information you should now scan for the answer.

Because you have already surveyed the text and also now know something about how the text is organised (see Step 1), you should already have some idea where—that is, in which section or paragraph—you can find the answer.

ACTIVITY 11

Here is the complete text and questions for the ‘How to Revise for Exams’ extract. Answer the questions. Do not read the whole text first. Read a question first and then look for the answer by scanning. Focus on the paragraph or section that deals with the topic of the question.

Time target: 4-5 minutes

                                                                                          HOW TO REVISE FOR EXAMS

Students learn and study in different ways. No one way best suits all students. We make the following suggestions, but they need to be interpreted flexibly.

a. Your attitude

Start with a positive frame of mind. Remind yourself why exams are necessary (to measure student performance and to assess student potential), and why you are going to do well in your exam (because you have been reasonably hardworking and have prepared intelligently).

b. Stress and self-confidence

Reduce stress and increase self-confidence. Make yourself familiar with the format of the exam. Most tests follow the pattern of earlier years. So, study past exam papers, noting exam format, the choice of questions and the time limits.

c. Reviewing study material

Review systematically. Go through all of your learning materials (class and reading notes, handouts, essays, etc.), making a careful index under major and minor headings.

d. How to revise

Revise actively, not passively. Revision means more than ‘re-viewing* and passing your eye across pages of notes. Active revision means using a questioning approach: do you understand what your notes mean? Follow up any points you do not understand.

e. flow to remember

Learn how to recall and use your knowledge. Practise remembering ideas and making use of your knowledge. Learn to join ideas together by making connections between information from various sources.

f. Structuring exam essays

The organisation of essays is very important. One page of well-structured answer is worth ten pages of aimless text But good exam technique only comes with practice. To do well at short exam answers you need to practise noting and organising your thoughts quickly.

g. Practising long exam essays

Get used to writing continuously for long periods without a break under exam conditions. This will help you to develop writing skills and to manage your most important resource—time.

h. Concentration

Don’t daydream or drift into a negative frame of mind. Concentration depends on practice, but it also depends on keeping fit and healthy. Remember to take regular breaks for fresh air, physical exercise and refreshment. Avoid excessive tea, coffee and alcohol.

i. Working with others

Consider the value of cooperative revision. Most students revise alone, and many become depressed because they fed they are falling behind. Others find it best to work in a revision group. Working with fellow students reminds you that you are not alone and is mutually supportive.

j. Having a balanced timetable

Maintain a balanced review timetable. Don’t revise only a few topics to the exclusion of all others. Spread your revision over two or more subjects each day. Take a day off now and then as a reward. Remember, you are building yourself up to peak performance on the day of the exam.

Questions 1-5: Do the statements below agree with the information in the reading passage? In the correct boxes on your answer sheet write:

TRUE                                           if the statement is true

FALSE                                         if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN                              if there is no information about this in the text

1. You can remember things better if you review them every day.

2. You should practice writing exam essays slowly and carefully.

3. Working in groups with other students to revise for exams is a good idea

4. You should revise by concentrating on only one subject per day.

5. Studying old exam papers will make you more confident.

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

ACTIVITY 12

Here is die complete text and questions for the ‘First Degree Courses’ passage. Answer the questions. As for the previous activity, do not read the whole text first. Read a question first and then look for the answer by scanning. Try to focus your scanning on the paragraph or section that deals with the topic of the question.

Time target: 5 minutes

                                                               FIRST DEGREE COURSES

COURSES

1. First degrees are the first degree you can take after leaving school, unlike a higher degree or masters degree.

They are also often called undergraduate degrees.

2. Arts, social science and pure science degrees normally last three years in England. Wales and Northern Ireland because they are designed to follow a very specialised school-leaving qualification. In Scotland, they take four years because Scottish students do a less specialised school-leaving examination.

3. First degree courses that include professional training take longer. For example, medicine or veterinary science each take 5 or 6 years and architecture takes 5 to 7 years. In addition, some courses in business studies, engineering, science and technology are one year longer to allow students to undertake practical training. These are known as ‘sandwich’ courses and include periods of work experience in industry and commerce.

4. Apart from undergraduate courses, there is a second type of higher educational qualification in the UK known as the Higher National Diploma or HND. It lasts a year less than a degree course—cither two years full time or three as a sandwich course. HNDs are vocational (or job related), so you will not find them in purely academic subjects such as history or philosophy. They are available, for example, in engineering, science subjects, business studies, hospitality and tourism management.

TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

5. UK universities and colleges use a range of teaching methods. You might find a combination of:

LECTURES—given to large groups of students, sometimes up to 200.

SEMINARS—discussions between one member of staff and a small group of students on a previously arranged topic, which everyone has prepared. Often, one student reads out an essay or seminar paper, then everyone joins in the discussion.

TUTORIALS—discussions between a member of staff and two or three students, sometimes only one.

6. Assessment of students’ work may be done in several different ways, but most universities still use some form of written examination. These can last for up to three hours, in which time you have to answer three or four questions in essay form. Examinations may be held each year or may come all together at the end of the course (in which case they are known as ‘finals’). Very few institutions, however, use examinations alone, and even fewer rely solely on finals.

7. ‘Continuous assessment’ is an increasingly popular method of assessment. This is based on the marks a student receives either in all their coursework or in a number of selected essays and projects.

8. Many first degree honours courses require students to write a dissertation, which is an extended essay on a subject of the student’s choice (chosen in consultation with staff)- Dissertations usually replace two or more examination papers.

Questions 1 to 5: Using information from the reading passage, complete the following sentences in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS

1. How long are Arts degrees in Scotland?

2. What is the name of courses which involve both normal study and practical job training?

3. How long is a full-time Higher National Diploma Course?

4. Which teaching method involves students discussing a subject they have already read about?

5. What kind of assessment is based on work done by the student during the course?

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Questions about main ideas

Questions about main ideas ask you to identify the main idea or topic of a section. There are two types of main idea questions: matching headings with paragraphs or sections, and identifying which sections relate to certain topics.

For both types of questions you should use the skill of skimming, but because the strategics are slightly different for each question type, we will look at them separately.

Main ideas: matching headings with paragraphs or sections For these questions, each paragraph in the text needs a heading. Your task is to choose the correct one from the list of headings provided. In a question type like this, you should skim a paragraph or section before choosing the correct answer from the list. This is because when trying to match long pieces of text (c.g. paragraphs) to phrases (e.g. headings), it is more efficient to skim the long piece of text first. Then you can look through the alternative headings very quickly.

Step 1—Survey the text

Surveying has already been discussed several times in this book. Can you remember what to look at when you survey? Make a list, then check your answers with the section on surveying on pages 5-6.

In addition to surveying, remember that:

♦ the instructions may already have given you some useful information about the subject or source of the text

♦ if there is an introduction immediately after the title—as in the ‘How to Revise for Exams’ text—this can also give you some useful information to help you quickly understand what the rest of the text will be about.

Step 2—Skim read a paragraph

In most well-written English texts, every paragraph deals with a specific aspect of a topic. The first sentence of a paragraph usually tells the reader what the rest of the paragraph is about so when you are trying to identify the main idea of a paragraph, you should read the first sentence carefully. Then, keeping the idea of the first sentence in mind, you should quickly check the rest of the paragraph, picking up only some of the words. This kind of reading is called skim reading or skimming. Using this technique you will have a general idea of what the writer is saying about the topic.

Of course, when you skim read a text you cannot get as much information from the text as when you read it all carefully, but by skimming you can quickly get enough information to help you answer the question. Remember that efficient use of time is one of the most important exam skills. Look again at the Section 2 Demonstration questions 1-4, to remind you of how skimming works in practice.

You will have to adjust the speed of your skimming according to how easy the text is for you to understand. If a paragraph does not have a first sentence which gives the topic of the paragraph clearly, you have to skim more carefully. But don’t forget that you should not read every word—reading every word will waste too much time.

Don’t expect to be able to skim well immediately—you will have to practise. But most experts agree that it is a very important skill, not only for exams but also for all your future reading for study or work purposes.

ACTIVITY 13

The following text has questions which ask you to match headings with tire paragraphs. Answer the questions, remembering to: survey the text, skim a paragraph/section for the main idea, and look for the correct heading from the list.

Time target: 5 minutes

Questions 1-5: Look at the text ‘Difficulties Commonly Experienced by Overseas Students’.

There are six sections A-E.

Choose the most suitable heading for each section from the list of headings below. Write the appropriate numbers (i-vi) in the correct boxes on your answer sheet.

Note: There are more headings than sections so you will not use all of them. You may use any of the headings more than once.

Example Answer: Section A – iv

1. Section B

2. Section C

3. Section D

4. Section E

5. Section F

                   List of headings

i. Personal Finances

ii. language and Communication

iii. Being Different and Apart

iv. Cultural Adjustment

v. Study-Related Concerns

vi. Family Support

vii. Getting Around

viii. Living Independently

                                                     DIFFICULTIES COMMONLY EXPERIENCED BY OVERSEAS STUDENTS

The problems experienced by overseas students are now generally well documented. The issues that cause the greatest difficulty can be summarized as follows:

A ______________________________________________

This involves getting used to the new country and different way of life, customs, and values. In addition, students also have to deal with the sense of loss (missing family, friends, familiar food and places). These issues are usually referred to by the term ‘culture shock’.

B ______________________________________________

Managing on a limited budget is a challenge for most, but it is especially so for people living in an unfamiliar

environment. Students may have to pay for education and living expenses, find a reasonable place to live and. in some cases, a part-time job to supplement any scholarship or money from home.

C ______________________________________________

Many students are not used to looking after themselves.

At home, parents and family usually assist them in coping with shopping, cooking, personal finances and generally managing their affairs. Overseas, all of these things must be done without the family’s support.

D ______________________________________________

Even some of the students who have been educated in an English language school have problems communicating freely at university level. Many students find reading and writing in English especially difficult. Participating in classroom discussion, and asking questions of staff often produce difficulties.

E ______________________________________________

Differences in the style and traditions of learning between Western and Asian countries frequently cause difficulty. Many overseas students find it difficult to adapt to Western notions of independent thinking and learning. Students from some countries may also have difficulty because they lack experience in using well- equipped libraries and laboratories.

F ______________________________________________

This refers both to experiences of racial intolerance and the relatively low level of contact that overseas students have with local people. Students often report being uncomfortable about generalized discrimination, e.g. graffiti. The lack of meaningful contact with locals will be discussed in a later section of this book.

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Main ideas: identifying which sections relate to certain topics The topic in each question needs to be matched with a paragraph or section of the reading text. This question type looks similar to the previous one but it requires a different strategy. It is better to read the question first to identify the topic, and then skim quickly through the text to find the paragraph/section that is related to that topic. This is because there are only a few questions while there are a lot of paragraphs/sections. Therefore, many of the paragraphs/sections do not contain an answer, and you will waste your time if you try to look for one.

ACTIVITY 14

The following text consists of a set of short notices about a careers information program. It is an example of a text in which you cannot find the main idea in the first sentence. Consequently, you will have to skim a little more slowly. However, every notice has a heading, and these may help you to identify what the notices are about.

Time target: 6 minutes

Questions 1-5

The ‘Industry Visit Workshops’ notice on the next page has information about 10 guest speakers at a school giving information about their jobs. The notices are labelled a-j.

Write the appropriate letters (a-j) in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet. Note: You may use any letter more than once.

Example Answer: Which talk would you attend if you wanted to work with children? b

1. Which talk would you attend if you were interested in working in a department store?

2. Which talk would you attend to find out about working for a newspaper?

3. Which speaker will probably talk about charitable and social work?

4. Which speaker will talk about computing?

5. Which speaker would you expect to talk about the importance of personal appearance ?

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Careers Information Program

This term, 10 guest speakers will be coming to the school to talk about their jobs. The program is as follows:

a. Against the law

Find out about the workings of a large inner-city legal firm. Find out how the support staff handle the complex workings of the court. Learn how to interpret the legalese used in legal documents.

b. Growing concerns

This speaker will explain how local authority childcare services operate. Areas covered in the talk include pre-school and day-care facilities and activities.

c. Fast food

The sick and the elderly often have difficulty feeding themselves. Meals on wheels is a non-profit making service which ensures that people who are unable to cook for themselves can eat well without having to leave their homes.

d. Your very good health

Modem hospitals have many of the facilities of a 5-star hotel. Learn how today’s doctors and nurses care not only for their patients* health, but also for their comfort.

e. The long and the short of it

Hairdressing is a serious business (hat involves a wide variety of skills. Clients can have their hair cut, styled, dyed, tinted, permed or straightened. And that’s just for starters! Learn all about the glamour and the glitter of the beauty business.

f. Stop press

A story can break at any time so it’s important that there’s always someone on the job who can be on the spot within minutes to get the news out. And then there arc the times when nothing much happens but there’s still a paper to sell. Learn about the thrills and the frustrations of work on one of the biggest dailies.

g. Are you being served?

From the art of arranging the window displays, to the science of stock control—the range of activities involved in the retail trade is enormous. This talk introduces you to the business of buying and selling to the general public.

h. Comprehensive cover

Accidents happen. Things get stolen. People get sick, and eventually we all die. Insurance softens the shock of some of life’s hard blows. Determining the risks is mostly done by computers and this speaker will explain the management of insurance data bases.

Summary—Section 2

There are usually two texts. Each text has only one type of question. Because the strategies for each type of question are different, the first thing you should do in Section 2 is look at the questions to identify the question type.

Questions about specific information

• Completing sentences

• True, False, Not Given

• Matching pieces of specific information

• Other question-types as in Section 1

Next, follow the three-step strategy to make finding the answer easier.

Step 1: Survey the text

• look at any parts of the text that stand out (e.g. the title, pictures, etc.)

Step 2: Read the instructions and the question

• make sure you know how you must answer the questions

• underline the key words Step 3 Look for the answers

• scan for key words or synonyms by looking over the text

• do not read every word

Questions about main ideas

Matching headings with paragraphs

Step 1: Survey the text

Step 2: Skim the paragraph to identify the topic

• the topic sentence is usually the first one in a paragraph

• skim the rest of the paragraph to make sure

Step 3: Choose the correct heading from the list

Identifying where to find information

Step 1: Survey the text

Step 2: Read the question to identify the topic

• underline the key words in the question

• read one question at a time

Step 3: Skim the paragraphs to find the one related to the topic

• the topic sentence is often the first one

• skim the rest of the paragraph quickly to confirm

Skills Focus

+ Guessing the Meaning of Words

While you are reading, you will probably find many words you do not understand. However, this does not have to be a problem. Firstly, you should decide whether the word is important for you. Understanding the word may not be necessary to answer the question. If you think the word is important, there are many strategies you can use to help you guess the meaning of a word.

+ Look at the context

Often you can guess the meaning of a word from the other words around it. Check the part of speech of a word

Knowing whether the word is a noun (singular or plural), verb, adjective or an adverb can help you to decide on its meaning within the context- Also, you may already know one form of the word (e.g. the noun nation) but not the others (e.g. the adjective national, the noun nationality, or the verb to nationalise), so you should look closely at the root word to give you a clue.

+ Use your previous knowledge of English

You may have seen the word in a different context. You can use your previous knowledge and the new context to work out the meaning. Or you may know the separate parts of a word, but may be unfamiliar with the word as a whole. You can use this knowledge to help you work out the meaning.

+ Check if there is a definition

Sometimes there will be a definition, explanation or example of an unknown word. These can be introduced by a variety of words—is, means, refers to, in other words, and i.e..

Look for any linking words or discourse markers

Linking words or discourse markers—such as however, but, therefore, for example, so that, fmady—may help to indicate the meaning of a particular word.

+ Use your general background knowledge

Your knowledge and experience about what is logical or illogical can help you to guess the meaning of some words.

DemonstrationExamples

The following sentences are taken from the Section 1 text ‘Your Post Office’.

1. More staff at peak periods for faster service.

Part of speech: normally a noun, but here acting as an adjective describing ‘periods’.

Your knowledge of the root word: you may know that the noun ‘peak’ means the top or highest point on a mountain.

The context: you need to have more staff to give faster service during these times. Therefore, you can guess that ‘peak periods’ means periods with the highest or maximum number of customers, or the busiest periods.

2. New vending machine services such as cash-change machines, and phone card and stamp dispensers for faster service.

Linking words: the words ‘machine services such as…’ tell you that a dispenser is a kind of machine.

The c cm text: the text is talking about people obtaining (buying) dungs from machines. If people can serve themselves, the service should be faster.

You can guess that a dispenser is a kind of machine that sells or gives out things automatically.

3. Extended opening hours at selected main offices.

Part of speech: ‘extended’ is an adjective (i.e. past participle form) describing ‘opening hours’.

Background knowledge: an adjective to describe ‘opening hours’ (the hours that the Post Office is open) can only be about more or less hours.

Context: The text is talking about providing a belter service.

Knowledge of the root word: you may know that ‘extend’ means to make longer. So, you can guess that ‘extended’ must mean longer.

4. The tablets contain doses that are safe for children, so there’s no danger of overdose

Part of speech: both words are nouns. The prefix over’ means ‘more’ or ‘too much’.

Context: the words ‘tablets contain doses’ tell you that a dose is something inside the tablet, or part of the ingredients. Also, this part of the text is talking about safety and danger. An overdose is negative (dangerous). Background knowledge: a medicine can be dangerous if a person (especially a child) takes too much.

Therefore, you can guess that a dose is an amount of medicine in the tablet and an overdose is too much medicine.

5. We need about 50mg of vitamin C per day, and we can get it readily from citrus fruits, tomatoes and green vegetables.

Part of speech: ‘readily’ is an adverb describing how we get vitamin C from those sources.

Context: the sentence is talking about being able to get our minimum requirement of vitamin C from the sources mentioned.

Background knowledge: you may know that these fruits and vegetables contain a lot of vitamin C. We can guess that ‘readily’ means ‘easily’ or ‘in great quantity’.

6. Most vitamins we need are available m sufficient quantities in vegetables and fruits … Some vitamins, however, can only be found in significant quantities in animal products.

Part of speech: significant is an adjective describing the noun ‘quantities’. Context: the text is talking about how much a vitamin we can get from different sources. The first sentence says that we can get ‘sufficient quantities’ (enough) of most vitamins from vegetables and fruits.

Linking words: The word ‘however’ shows that the information in the second sentence contrasts with the information in the first sentence. The main contrast is beeween animal products and vegccables/fruits as different sources of vitamins. Therefore, you can guess that the meaning of ‘significant quantities’ is similar to the meaning of sufficient quantities.

ACTIVITY 15

For the examples below, try to work out the meaning of the underlined words using the strategies described above. Choose the correct answer a, b or c.

The following examples are taken from the reading ‘The Coming Crisis in Long-Term Care’ in Section 3.

1. While only 5 per cent of Americans over 65 currently reside in nursing homes, that percentage rises sharply with age. Twenty-two per cent of persons 85 and older live in nursing homes.

a. live

b. work

c. visit

2. According to national estimates, one year in a nursing home costs an average of $22 000, and this is expected to more than double by 2018. Given that the mean income for Americans aged 65 and older is currently $19 000, nursing home care would exhaust the assets and available income of most elderly people in just one year.

a. tire out

b. use up completely

c. pay for

3. But how will such insurance be funded —publicly or privately? While some groups urge a publicly funded program, there are grave doubts about the willingness of taxpayers to pay for a public program.

a. very few

b. serious

c. no

4. The federal government already faces a budget deficit, which threatens cutbacks in existing programs. The substantial extra expenditure of a publicly funded program would certainly lose votes.

a. profit

b. stability

c. loss

5. Individuals would thus still be responsible for footing the bill for their own long-term care.

a. paying

b. counting

c. writing

IELTS General Training Reading Tips For Section 2
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