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IELTS Academic Reading

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  1. IELTSAcademic Reading English Language Centre The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  2. Test Format and Tasks • Format, Tasks & Text types • Answers • 2 examples of question types • Strategies • Further Help • References • Questions

  3. Test Format • Reading Module lasts 60 minutes • 3 reading passages • total 2,000 – 2,750 words • 40 questions • Texts and questions appear on Question Paper. • Answers entered on Answer Sheet

  4. Test Format – Tasks • Multiple choice • Short-answer questions • Sentence completion • Notes/summary/diagram/flow-chart/ table completion • Choosing from a ‘heading bank’ for identified paragraphs/ sections of text • Identification of writer’s views/claims – yes, no or not given • Classification • Matching lists/phrases

  5. Test Format - Text Types • Magazines, journals, books and newspapers • Topics of non-specialist, general interest • Interesting, appropriate and accessible to university students • At least one text contains detailed logical argument • One text may contain non-verbal materials – diagrams, graphs, illustrations • Texts with technical terms will have a glossary

  6. Test Format - Answers • One mark for each correct answer • Must be written on the answer sheet • No extra time allowed to transfer answers • Poor spelling and grammar are penalised • You can write notes on the Question Paper but you can’t take it away.

  7. Example text extract ‘Wind Power’ • Wind Power in the US Prompted by the oil crises of the 1970s, a wind-power industry flourished briefly in the United States. But then world oil prices dropped, and funding for research into renewable energy was cut. By the mid 1980s US interest in wind energy as a large-scale source of energy had almost disappeared. The development of wind power at this time suffered not only from badly designed equipment, but also from poor long-term planning, economic projections that were too optimistic and the difficulty of finding suitable locations for the wind turbines…(contd)

  8. Example text extract – glossary ‘Wind Power’ • Glossary - fossil fuel: coal, oil and natural gas - kilowatt: 1,000 watts; a watt is a unit of power - kilowatt-hour: one kilowatt for a period of one hour - megawatt: one million watts - wind farm: a group of wind turbines in one location producing a large amount of electricity - wind turbine: a machine…

  9. Example questions Task 1‘Wind Power’ • Questions 1 - 5 Complete the summary below.Choose your answers from the box below the summary and write them in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet. NB There are more words or phrases than you will need to fill the gaps.You may use any word or phrase more than once.ExampleThe failure during the late 1970s and early 1980s of an attempt to … 

  10. Example questions Task 1 ‘Wind Power’ • …establish a widespread wind power industry in the United States resulted largely from the ...(1) ... in oil prices during this period. The industry is now experiencing a steady ...(2)... due to improvements in technology and an increased awareness of the potential in the power of wind. The wind turbines…(contd) _________________________________criticism success design costs production costs failure stability operating costs fall growth recognition scepticism decisions effects declineresults

  11. Strategies for ‘word completion’ tasks (task 1) • Read instructions carefully & study examples if given. You must be clear about what you have to do. • Read the text quickly for general understanding. • Read the questions and think about what the missing information might be before you look at the text again. • Check that your answer fits logically and grammatically by studying the words either side of the gap. • Re-read the relevant section carefully once more to check meaning

  12. Example questions Task 2 ‘Wind Power’ • Questions 6 - 10 Look at the following list of issues (Questions 6-10) and implications (A-C). Match each issue with one implication. Write the appropriate letters A-C in boxes 6-10 on your answer sheet. • Example - The current price of one wind-generated kilowatt... Answer A _________________________________ A…provides evidence against claims that electricity produced from wind power is relatively expensive.

  13. Example questions Task 2 ‘Wind Power’ • 6.The recent installation of systems taking advantage of economies of scale ...7.The potential of meeting one fifth of current US energy requirements by wind power ...8.The level of acceptance of current wind turbine technology ...9.A comparison of costs between conventional and wind power sources ...10.The view of wind power in the European Union ... • Implications A provides evidence against claims that electricity produced from wind power is relatively expensive.B supports claims that wind power is an important source of energy. C opposes the view that wind power technology requires further development.

  14. Strategies for ‘matching’ tasks (task 2) • Skim through the list of issues and implications to get a quick impression of possible matches. • Scam through the text for sections that refer to the issues in the question. Underline them • Carefully consider the implications mentioned in the questions and underline where they are referred to in the text. • Re-read the relevant sections quickly before you make your choice on the answer sheet. • Don’t forget to check your answers after each task.

  15. General Strategies for Reading • ALL tasks require these five skills • Previewing • Interpreting instructions & questions • Scanning for specific answers • Skimming for general idea of text • Checking your answers

  16. Further Help - CILL • Cill – Centre for Independent Language Learning Core A 3/F - Help from an ELC teacher with all aspects of your English including academic reading - CILL teachers can guide and assist you with reading skills and strategies - More information at

  17. References • These books are useful and are available in CILL, AG305. • Insight into IELTS – Cambridge University Press. Progressive development of skills and language for the IELTS exam. • Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS. Books 1, 2 & 3 provide further exposure to IELTS materials and procedures

  18. Useful websites • IELTS Homepage ELC Homepage UGC Introductory Site

  19. Questions? • NOTE! Please don’t ask an ELC teacher to predict what grade you might get as this is forbidden by the IELTS organisation.