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Anyone who has sat their IELTS exam has to admit that the Reading section is definitely the most difficult of the four disciplines. But why is that? By the time you get to do IELTS you should be good enough at all the aspects of English that the Reading section should be just as easy as the other parts, but it’s not, so why is that?
There are many reasons why the Reading is more difficult:
- You just don’t know what kind of subjects that will be covered
- You just don’t know which vocabulary will be presented
- The writing section can be done perfectly simply by using the vocabulary you already know
- The speaking section can be completed perfectly simply by using the vocabulary you do know.
- The listening section requires the listener to tend to focus on information and ideas rather than specific words meaning
So as you can see there are a few common points here, subject coverage and vocabulary. It does seem to be that when we embark on a new reading passage, the vocabulary and subject area right from the start can throw you off and make it difficult for you to concentrate.
I myself did the TOEFL exam just so that I could get a feeling for what was required at this level and I have to tell you, I am a native speaker, and expectedly did well in the speaking and writing and listening, but the reading still threw me. Why? Because as soon as I read the title I had a psychological flip on whether I was interested in the subject or not.
Here is a list of the four subjects I had to read on:
- The history of agriculture in 18th century Germany
- The changing unemployment rate in northern England today
- The analysis of a rare biological species from the Great Barrier Reef
- Modern trends in the computerization of education
To tell you the truth No. 2 and 4 were of general interest to me and so it was a lot easier to find the content easy to understand, the other two were full of either full of dates and timelines or long complex biological names.
Yet when we learn to prepare for the Reading we are told to not be phased by the titles, we need to learn not to read but to skim and scan, that the way the exam is set up is learning how to extract information correctly.
The key is exactly this. Some people get really good at this. They understand the technique extremely well and don’t sway from that. They understand the time limit well and don’t deviate from that either. This really is the key, and something I personally would recommend everyone to follow. Don’t be phased by thinking that you need to be interested in the subject.
So what do you think?