The Reading Module

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Fact/Opinion

When asked about which statement is a fact or opinion, remember that answer choices that are facts will typically have no ambiguous words.  For example, how long is a long time? What defines an ordinary person? These ambiguous words of “long” and “ordinary” should not be in a factual statement.  However, if all of the choices have ambiguous words, go to the context of the passage.  Often a factual statement may be set out as a research finding.

Example: “The scientist found that the eye reacts quickly to change in light.”

Opinions may be set out in the context of words like thought, believed, understood, or wished.

Example: “He thought the Yankees should win the World Series.”

Opposites

Answer choices that are direct opposites are usually correct. The paragraph will often contain established relationships (when this goes up, that goes down). The question may ask you to draw conclusions for this and will give two similar answer choices that are opposites.

Example:

A.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to a decrease in housing starts

B.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to an increase in housing starts

Often these opposites will not be so clearly recognized.  Don’t be thrown off by different wording, look for the meaning beneath.  Notice how these two answer choices are really opposites, with just a slight change in the wording shown above.  Once you realize these are opposites, you should examine them closely. One of these two is likely to be the correct answer.

Example:

A.) if other factors are held constant, then increasing the interest rate will lead to a decrease in housing starts

B.) when there is an increase in housing starts, and other things remaining equal, it is often the result of an increase in interest rates

Make Predictions

As you read and understand the passage and then the question, try to guess what the answer will be.  Remember that most of the answer choices are wrong, and once you being reading them, your mind will immediately become cluttered with answer choices designed to throw you off.  Your mind is typically the most focused immediately after you have read the passage and question and digested its contents. If you can, try to predict what the correct answer will be.  You may be surprised at what you can predict.

Quickly scan the choices and see if your prediction is in the listed answer choices.  If it is, then you can be quite confident that you have the right answer. It still won’t hurt to check the other answer choices, but most of the time, you’ve got it!

Answer the Question

It may seem obvious to only pick answer choices that answer the question, but IELTS can create some excellent answer choices that are wrong.  Don’t pick an answer just because it sounds right, or you believe it to be true. It MUST answer the question.  Once you’ve made your selection, always go back and check it against the question and make sure that you didn’t misread the question, and the answer choice does answer the question posed.

Benchmark

After you read the first answer choice, decide if you think it sounds correct or not. If it doesn’t, move on to the next answer choice.  If it does, make a mental note about that choice. This doesn’t mean that you’ve definitely selected it as your answer choice, it just means that it’s the best you’ve seen thus far.  Go ahead and read the next choice.  If the next choice is worse than the one you’ve already selected, keep going to the next answer choice.  If the next choice is better than the choice you’ve already selected, then make a mental note about that answer choice.

As you read through the list, you are mentally noting the choice you think is right. That is your new standard.  Every other answer choice must be benchmarked against that standard. That choice is correct until proven otherwise by another answer choice beating it out.

Once you’ve decided that no other answer choice seems as good, do one final check to ensure that it answers the question posed.

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