How to get a 9 on the IELTS Reading Test – Step 1

How to get a 9 on the IELTS Reading test?

Good question.

The IELTS Reading Exam is one of the most feared sections of the test.

This is often because students approach the test in a non-systematic way. 

Check out this post: IELTS Reading exam: how to pass for more super info.

Many students come to us and ask for tips on how to improve their skimming and scanning skills.

This is a common mistake.

Of course, skimming and scanning skills are needed in the to complete the IELTS reading test on time.

However, there are other important factors you need to consider before you take the IELTS test.

The first of these is as follows:

Learn IELTS Academic Vocabulary to get a 9 on the reading test

Our students always look shocked when we tell them the IELTS Reading test is more a test of vocabulary than of reading.

Surely this can’t be the case. 

It’s called the IELTS Reading test, isn’t it teacher?

Yes, this is true, but you will fail to get the score you want if you have a low level of vocabulary.

The IELTS test is more difficult than many other reading tests as the key words in the question are often hard to find in the passage.

What’s the reason for this I hear you ask?

It’s simple.

The IELTS Reading test uses synonyms to make things difficult for test takers.

So not only do you have to understand the question, you also need to think of synonyms for the key words in it.

How to build your IELTS academic vocabulary for a 9 on the reading test

A good way to practice build up your synonyms is by using real IELTS practice papers.

We recommend you use the official Cambridge ones for authenticity. 

You should also become familiar with using IELTS Simon’s Keyword technique

See the Keyword table below as an example.

Click here to find out how to use this technique



IELTS keyword technique
Image from IELTS Simon

IELTS Simon has always been my favorite IELTS teacher on the net.

For over a decade now the Phuket PALS IELTS teachers have been using Simon’s keyword table to build students’ vocabulary.

It’s such a simple yet effective way to beef up your language arsenal in preparation for the big day. 

If you want to improve your IELTS Reading score, start making a keyword table like the one above every time to complete an IELTS practice test.

We advise keeping all of your keyword tables in one notebook for quick access.

You’ll be surprised how quickly your academic vocabulary improves when you consistently do this.

Remember daily practice is the key.

Build momentum everyday and stay focused.

Review the words and phrases daily and get someone to test you on the words and phrases weekly.

Also, practice using the new words and phrases in your writing.

Finding past papers boring? Read from other quality sources and push for a 9

You don’t have to limit yourself to past papers.

Some students love past papers, but many feel like they are going to die after a week using them.

If you are in the latter group, then it’s important you read articles you are interested in.

Personally, I recommend Newsela 

This site is a free library at your fingertips.

Just make sure you adjust the reading level (lexile level) to suit your current needs. 

We recommend the maximum of grade 12 level for IELTS preparation.

You can find out more about Newsela basics my watching this video.

Of course, as you are reading from Newsela, you should continue writing down new words in your notebook.

I recommend writing the word, a definition of the word, synonyms of the word and also write a sentence using the word.

These website are also use for practicing your reading and building vocabulary:

How to find free online news for IELTS reading practice.

What if I want to do past papers now?

Of course, if you prefer IELTS reading practice papers then you can access lots of them here

I recommend doing each paper twice:

The first time against the clock to build your test taking speed.

The second time take it slowly and focus on building your IELTS academic vocabulary in your notebook.

Use a quality dictionary as well and make sure your vocabulary notebook is immaculate.

If you make the extra effort boosting your IELTS vocabulary through reading past papers and quality articles, you’ll boost your score in no time.

Let us know if you found these tips useful by commenting below.

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