Alright, IELTS warriors, gather around! It’s time for a heart-to-heart about the IELTS Reading section!

But hold your horses – we’re not going to chat about the usual tips and tricks (You can read about that here!). Nope, we’re diving into the murky waters of what NOT to do. Picture this as your handy guide to avoiding those pesky little mistakes that can throw a wrench in your score.

Now, I know you’re eager to learn all the right moves, but hang on a second. Let’s flip the script and focus on the ‘no-nos’ – those sneaky little habits that can sneak up and torpedo your progress faster than you can say ‘IELTS’. From time traps to guesswork games, we’re going to tackle them head-on. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew, find a comfy spot, and let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what to avoid in the IELTS Reading section. Ready? Let’s roll!

1. Don’t get stuck on a single question

If you’re stuck on a question, don’t sweat it. Just skip it and move on. You can always circle back to it later. The key here is to manage your time effectively. Remember, every minute counts in this test, and you don’t want to waste valuable time on a single question!

Basically, tackle the questions you know first, rack up those points, and then, if time allows, return to the tricky ones. It’s all about maximizing your score with the time you have!

2. Don’t rely solely on the first and last sentence

Hey, I get it – some study guides might tell you that reading just the first and last sentence of paragraphs is enough. But let’s be real: IELTS Reading is not just about getting a rough idea; it’s about understanding the finer details. Those crucial little details often hide out in the middle of paragraphs, like treasure waiting to be discovered.

If you skip them, you might miss out on key information needed for those specific questions, especially the tricky ones like matching headings. Think of each paragraph as a mini-story. You wouldn’t skip the middle of a story and still expect to understand it fully, right? The same goes here. To nail those answers, you need to dive into the whole paragraph, not just skim the surface!

3. Avoid scanning for specific words without considering paraphrasing 

Scanning for specific words? Hold up a second!

Here’s a crucial tip: IELTS loves the game of paraphrasing. They often rephrase key ideas in ways that aren’t word-for-word matches with the question.

So, what should you do? Keep your eyes peeled for synonyms and similar expressions. It’s a bit like being a language detective, searching for clues that mean the same thing but are said differently. This approach will help you grasp the full picture, not just pieces of it. So, broaden your search beyond those exact words from the questions, and you’ll be more likely to spot the right answers, even when they’re cleverly disguised in different wording.

4. Avoid neglecting practice under real test conditions

When prepping for IELTS Reading, it’s crucial to bring a timer into the mix. Think of it as a practice buddy. You might have a good grip on the types of questions, but can you beat the buzzer? That’s where the real challenge lies! Practicing with time ticking away isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential. It’s like training for a marathon – you need to get used to the distance, or in this case, the duration.

Timing your practice sessions does wonders. It’s like a mini simulation of exam day, giving you a taste of what it’s like to read, think, and answer with the clock counting down. This is how you learn to juggle speed with accuracy – a skill as important as knowing the answers.

It’s all about pacing. How quickly can you get through a passage without missing the important bits? When do you decide to move to the next question? This kind of practice helps you find your sweet spot – that perfect balance where you’re fast but still sharp.

And don’t forget about stamina – sitting and concentrating for a full hour isn’t a walk in the park. Timed practice helps build up that mental endurance, so you’re not just ready, but resilient!

Plus, you get to experiment with different strategies and see what works best when time is of the essence.

Remember, every minute of practice is a step towards acing that test. So, let’s get friendly with the timer and make every second count!

5. Don’t ignore the importance of reading skills

Let’s face it, no amount of tips and strategies can replace the importance of good reading skills. If you’re someone who doesn’t read regularly, now is a great time to start. Reading exposes you to various writing styles, expands your vocabulary and helps you understand complex sentences – all of which are beneficial for your IELTS Reading section!

Here are some reading skills you should pick up:

  • Skimming and scanning 

These skills help you quickly grasp the main idea of a passage (skimming) and locate specific details (scanning) – both essential for navigating the twists and turns of IELTS reading passages!

  • Understanding paraphrasing

Now, here’s a thing about IELTS – they love to mix things up. You’ll often find that they use paraphrasing in both questions and passages. This means that the exact words from the question might not be used in the text. Instead, they might use synonyms or different grammatical structures that convey the same meaning. So, be prepared to recognize these variations!

  • Analytical reading skills

Being able to analyze a text, tell the main ideas from the supporting details, and understand the author’s tone and purpose are really important skills for the IELTS reading section. Keep practicing and you’ll get better at it!

6. Don’t leave any questions unanswered

When it comes to answering questions in the IELTS reading test, remember this: it’s better to take a guess than to leave a question unanswered. Don’t worry about getting it wrong, as there’s no penalty for incorrect answers. So go ahead and give it your best shot!

7. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the clock

While you’re busy decoding passages and answering questions, don’t forget to check the clock! You have a limited amount of time, and it’s crucial that you manage it effectively to answer all questions. Keep a check on the time after completing each passage to stay on track.


Navigating the IELTS Reading section can feel like walking through a maze, but knowing what mistakes to avoid can provide a clear path towards success. Remember, the key is to practice, manage your time effectively, and not let difficult questions deter you. So, apply these tips, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to conquer the IELTS Reading section. You’ve got this!

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