The basic rule is DON’T SKIM. You just have to do everything in moderate speed. As long as you don’t slack while doing the test, you’ll be fine. Surely, it is advised that you get adequate practice to improve your so-called “moderate” speed.
If you have some difficulties in understanding the reading passage, well, those in the paper-based IELTS are actually simple. A paragraph consists of a main sentence and some supporting sentences. Meanwhile, a sentence’s core has a subject and a verb. Have yourself some exercises to mentally break the passage in this way. Don’t get confused with long paragraphs or seemingly endless sentences, because they are all basically the same.
1. Read the first three sentences, look if there is any question related to what you’ve found there. Make a temporary answer if it is possible.
2. Read the rest of the paragraph, look again at the questions. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to answer most of them by then.
3. Repeat step 1 for the next paragraph(s).
4. After reading the whole passage, check the answers you’ve made so far. There may be something you misunderstood when you only had read the first paragraph.
This way, you would not waste your time reading without answering any question (and likely to forget what you’ve just read). Moreover, it would be safer than getting lost in the passage when you try to answer the questions directly.
Dealing with the vocabulary questions is tricky when you have very little knowledge in the area. The best way to prepare yourself is reading everything and make sure that you look for the difficult words (and memorize them, of course). Books specifically telling you about what and how to memorize the most popular words occuring in IELTS would also help you much.
However, if your time is running out, go get yourself a lot of IELTS practice tests. Coin new words there, find their meanings. Make sure that you learn something from the answers’ explanation because experience would make you remember at best.
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