An IELTS Reading passage asks 13 to 14 questions per passage. This means that the person should be well acquainted with the passage before jumping on to the details to find the answer. This can be done only if we can retain the information given in the passage and work towards digging our answers for those 14 question through the mire of 500-700 words. If you don’t have a handle on critical information from each paragraph of the passage, you’ll realize that you make a lot of mistakes with questions that ask for headings, Yes – no – not given and big picture. The most efficient way to deal with this situation is by creating passage maps. For this you need to:

How to Create a Passage Map?

The Illustrative example showcases some key components involved in good MAP making on IELTS reading.

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Remember to underline Keywords:

Keywords are broadly divided into 6 categories

  1. Addition – and, like . too, as
  2. Contradiction – out, or, yet, although
  3. Sequence – first, next. Once, now
  4. Cause/ condition- if, unless, in order to, because, since
  5. example/ emphasis – including, for example, such as, certainly, in fact
  6. Conclusion – so, therefore, thus, as a result

As we can see these words twist or turn the flow of ideas in various directions. These expressions plays a key role in understanding the purpose of a paragraph. Once we have identified the purpose, write it next to the respective paragraph as Shown in the image.

Paraphrase each paragraph in a few words

The act of paraphrasing is to put down in simple terms the main idea of long or complex texts. This needs to be done after you’ve skimmed through each paragraph. For instance, once you’ve read the first sentence, take a few seconds to understand what the primary topic of the passage is. Then, read in a way where you slow-down and read carefully only the sentences that bring in a new perspective, idea or opinion. Read everything else quickly. This will ensure that you don’t get lost in unnecessary details and stay true to the core idea of the passage. Take a few seconds to process the important information and write a few words about the most important aspects of the paragraph: this is the paraphrase or the Map . Remember that paraphrasing goes hand-in-hand with the keywords that you underlined.

This strategy substantially improves your accuracy for Matching the heading questions, Yes-no-maybe questions as well as for details questions since you know exactly what the passage is focused about and where each detail can be found!

Hope you found these strategies useful!

To find other techniques which could work for Reading comprehension question type; check out our post on Intensive reading and Scanning.

A post graduate of Literature, Khusboo Jain has a diverse teaching experience in English Language since 2013. She worked as a consultant in schools as well as taught English Language programs for Test Preparation. She loves to spend her free time pouring over books about English Language Teaching; She also loves to volunteer in literary events.