Continuing with the ‘Managing you time effectively’ posts, this time I want to address both the time you should allocate for each task as well as the necessity, sometimes, to prioritize the order in which you complete your answers to increase your final score.
There are 3 tasks. The first one is a T/F/NG, the second is a matching exercise and the 3rd one is a general one (multiple choice) asking for a possible title for the reading text. What should your strategy be?
The last one is a question you can answer after you reflect back on the whole text, so it shouldn’t take you more than a minute to do so. Time yourself, especially when you practice at home!!
What happens if it is not that easy though? How can we make decisions about prioritizing the tasks we answer to achieve the best possible score?
If you look, for example, at Reading 2, again in test 3, same volume, you may have to make different choices. What do I mean? Here, you have to deal with the heading section in the beginning, two more tasks with tables and a general question in the end. The Headings Section is generally considered a difficult one. So, how are you going to prioritize which one to start with and how much time to dedicate to each? My suggestions would be:
Concluding, if we needed to summarize our steps, we would have to say that, depending on the texts that we have in front of us, we need to:
This is a new column on this blog : book/e-book reviews. The first one to review is by Jenny Bedwell and Phil Wade
This e-book contains all the important information an IELTS candidate needs to get acquainted with the speaking section of the exam. It starts with an introduction to its format and continues with a comprehensive section about important tips regarding the 3 sections, the Dos and Don’ts and finally, mistakes that should be avoided.
All in all, this is a very comprehensive e-book and I would highly recommend it as IELTS candidates would definitely profit from it.
IELTS is a graded test. This is the main reason why the time to complete the reading tasks seems limited, a lot of times, at least to some students who aim to achieve a score between 5 and 6/6.5. Effective time management is of primary importance, therefore, in this particular exam. So, how can we help learners develop the right techniques?
One of these is to find ways to combine our search for information for all or most of the reading tasks right from the beginning. To the degree, of course, that this is possible. Reading text 1 in test 1 of the book Cambridge IELTS 8 (Official Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations) is ideal to illustrate exactly this. The title of the reading passage is “A Chronicle of timekeeping’.
Before starting to read the text, it is advisable to look at all the tasks first. Always! We need to make sure we know the types of tasks that each time we are required to answer. DON’T start by reading the text first! In this particular text, following it are 3 tasks : the first one asks students to identify the paragraphs that contain information similar to the specific statements that follow. The second asks students to match the statements with specific nationalities. Finally, the third one is a flow chart. So, what are the techniques we can apply which can save us time? In short, while we are scanning our text for task 1, we can also do part of the search we need to do for the other 2 tasks and save time, in this way.
In the first task,for example, we need to read each statement, circle the key words and then scan each paragraph to locate the relevant information. While we are doing this, we might as well ‘partly’ search for the information we also need for task 2 and then also for task 3. What do I mean? Questions 5-8 (task 2) involve matching the nationalities in the box with each event. So, a suggestion is that, while scanning the text for the 1st task, we can save time by circling the names of the nationalities each time we locate them in the text. Just the names of nationalities! This alone can save us about 1-2 minutes which we can use to answer one more question. If we need roughly 20’ for each text, you can imagine what difference these 1-2’ can make!
Moving on to the 3rd one, a flowchart, we need to remember 2 facts about this type of exercise. Flowcharts always have headings which can help us identify easily the relevant information in the text. The heading includes a date, a number and/or a name which makes our search even easier. The 2nd fact is that the information related to the flowchart can always be found in a specific place in the text, in one or two paragraphs, usually one after the other, and not sparsely in the text. Plus, since this is the 3rd task, the information we are looking for is probably around the end of the whole text. So, it’s rather concentrated.
So, summarising :
We always need to make the best use of our time (approximately 20’ for each text). Deciding right from the beginning the ways in which we can combine our search for all tasks involved can save us valuable time which can help us in the end to answer 1-2 more questions that we wouldn’t have time to answer otherwise. Yet, we also need to bear in mind this is not possible with ALL the reading texts. Not only is the process not the same with all texts, but also it is not always possible nor easy to combine our search. Still, we should always try to find ways to organise our time wisely!