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IELTS Reading – Types of Questions (Part 3)

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With a matching question, we usually need to read a paragraph to find where the information is. This is only one of the types we can see. Unlike heading matching, the topic sentence and the concluding sentence will not be enough. They are useful in helping us to narrow down the area we are looking for, but more will need to be done.

With matching, we can have a few different types of questions. You could see; matching two halves of a sentence, or matching what someone says about a topic. Both are quite common, and should not be too difficult provided you follow my strategies.

As with everything, you will need to do is read the questions. As you are reading, you should be following the basics; underlining keywords, circling the most important ones and making any type of prediction. For most questions, it will be very hard to make predictions, especially when matching what a person says, but it does not hurt to try it very quickly. Then, you need to scan for the information. As these questions will not be in order, I would always recommend you do them after you have done other question types. This is because the information you will be looking for is so specific, that without some previous understanding of where things are located in the passage, you will find it very hard to search for all the answers.

If you happen to get some questions about matching what people say, they are exactly the same. The only difference is that you will know where to look for the answers. Let me explain further. The first thing you should do, after reading the statements is to skim the passage and circle every person’s name. Keep in mind that the passage may use a shortened form, like a first or last name only. Also, the person’s name may appear more than once. The reason you should circle them is that what people say, or their statements, will come either just before, or just after their name in the passage.

Therefore, being prepared with their names circled means you should be able to find the answers even quicker than normal.

Short answer questions are not like the other questions we have covered. While we do use some of the same strategies, there is another step involved.

One of the most common errors is students write too many words in an answer.  That is you cannot write more than a specific number of words. This is misunderstood by some people. If the instructions say WRITE NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER. There a few ways to answer.  Also, with short answer questions, you do not need to be grammatically correct. As the answers are short, you only need to important words.

Basically, you can think of a short answer question like a speaking question. One of the easiest ways to answer is to mirror the question. That means to use the exact same words in your answer. This is not the best piece of advice for speaking, but for reading it is perfect.

Imagine you get a question like this: What do you do in your free time? Your answer would include an activity. It may be a verb phrase like play football, or it may be a simple verb like sleep. Using this example, we can clearly see that the answer is easy to predict, at least the type of word or words needed is easy to predict. This is the same tactic we will use for these questions.

As with all questions, the first thing that needs to be done is underlining and circling of keywords. After that, we should begin to think of how to say the same sentence in another way. Most times the words will be paraphrased, so the more options you can think of the better you will do in the actual test.

With multiple choice questions, you will be provided with a question or a statement and then you will have 3 to 5 choices to choose from. Usually, you will only have to pick 1 answer, but for some questions, you may have to pick more than one.

The steps involved are very similar to other tasks. After you scan the passage, you need to read the questions and underline the keywords. Going a bit further, you should also read the possible answers and underline the keywords there as well. This is something that many students do not do and it is just a waste. The reason we underline options is so that we know the differences we are looking for.

Also, since the questions and possible answers may be paraphrased, the more information you have when scanning, the more likely you are to find the answers easily. After you have read all the questions and options and underlined the keywords, you need to think about how to paraphrase them.

Another thing to remember is that multiple choice questions will come in order. That is to say that you will never have to look back at an area you have already read to find an answer.  When doing these types of questions, some of your common sense is certainly going to help. Often, the options given will have 2 opposites.

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