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Monday, March 12, 2018


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I did a reading test(mock test) yesterday. Cambridge -5, test-1. I scored very worst. I can read fast but I can't solve my problems with finding answer.


It is not really about reading fast. Unless you are very close to taking the exam, it is better to practice finding the right answer, and just take as long as you need to be sure you have it right. In other words, get your technique and accuracy right first, and speed up later.

For most questions (but not paragraph headings) the answer to question one is in the first or second paragraph, question two in the next paragraph and so on. So read the first question, look for the answer in the first couple of paragraphs. You should be able to underline one particular phrase that pinpoints the answer. If you cannot, then you probably have not found the right answer/place.

Also remember that the last reading is often the hardest in terms of questions. It usually contains the extra ten more difficult questions that get you from band 7 to band 9. So during practice, spend extra time on the last reading identifying in which sentence the answer lies.

When checking the solutions, it is most important to figure out why you went wrong. If you got the right answer, that is fine, but your overall results will only improve if you learn better techniques from the mistakes you made. Every mistake is an opportunity to up your score!

For myself, I slowly read one paragraph at a time with the next question in mind. One good careful read should be enough. For me this is quicker than trying to skim through, and then have to go back over it all again.

For paragraph headings, I read para 1, find the best heading, para 2, and so on. I only go back for a second look if I have used the same heading twice.


About "not given": these are the hardest answers to verify. If you cannot find a True/False or Yes/No answer in the next paragraph, then maybe the correct answer is "not given". At first, I used to think that the only way to be sure was to skim through the whole text in case the answer was tucked away somewhere else. But in my experience this is unnecessary.

Remember there is usually one answer per paragraph: unless there are, like, ten paragraphs and only nine questions, or vice-versa.

So for example, the answer to question three is usually in the paragraph between where question two and question four are answered. So look in appropriate paragraph and if it is not there, go for "not given". It is difficult to feel sure about "not given", but you should at least be able to point to the paragraph and phrase where the information is missing.

For every mistake you make in practice, you absolutely must find the phrase giving the right answer, and think about why you missed it and explain to yourself why this gives the correct answer: this is the only way to improve your technique.


The most important question in practice is: why do you think your answer is correct? Can you explain why? If you cannot, you are probably wrong.

If you can find a "study buddy" and go through the same reading together, then you should discuss your answers until you both have the same answer and are both convinced you are right.

A good teacher will do something similar.


Even if you are doing a timed practice reading test, it is better NOT to check the answers right away. That will only tell you whether you are right or wrong, and you will learn nothing.

Wait a day or two, come back to it with a dictionary, and starting with the most difficult (usually third) section, make sure you understand every word, and that you have the right answers.

Just finding the right paragraph or the right paraphrase may well not be enough for this section. The third section is not usually about whether you understand the gist, or can find the right place, it is about detailed overall comprehension, so the vocabulary and complexity of the text and question may be harder, and the answer may not necessarily be right next to the paraphrase - that might be too easy. This is to sort the Band 7 candidates from the Band 9 ones.

Your aim here is twofold: firstly to make sure that you get all the answers in the (easier) two sections right, and secondly to get three or more answers in the third section correct. This will put you over the line for Band 7.0.

The score converter here shows how this works:


Thanks @Fruzi for your enormous ideas and techniques. I'll follow your all instructions you given to me. In fact, I've a bad hobit to answer with bounded time and sometime I forget that I'm practicing only for two weeks. I need much time to correct all the problems belongs to reading.

As a matter of interest, which technique do people find most effective in the reading exam:

A) Read the whole text quickly to obtain a general idea of what it is all about, and then look at the questions.

B) Read the first line of each paragraph to find out what each paragraph is about, and then look at the questions.

C) Read the first question, scan the whole text to find a matching keyword phrase, and answer the question. Then proceed to question two and do the same thing, and so on.

D) Read all the questions, then start reading the text and try to find the answers.

E) Read question one, read the first one or two paragraphs, read question two, read another paragraph (Fruzi's method as above).

F) Some other approach.

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