The prospect of taking exams is always daunting, and it’s important to be as well prepared as possible before sitting one. Luckily, we’ve created 8 simple tips that can help maximise your performance in an English reading exam, and give you the best chance of success!
- The exam is testing your reading skills
All of your answers should be taken directly from the text provided. Do not include your own ideas and experiences, as these do not contribute to the answer and will not gain you any extra marks.There is NO need for full sentences or perfect grammar – these skills are not marked and focusing too much on them can waste time. However, it is important to make sure that all of your responses are clearly written and make sense.
- Pay attention to the wording
If the question says ‘Explain’ or ’Describe’, it means the examiners are looking for more than just a list. Make sure you give enough detail to get full marks on these questions.Multiple choice questions might require more than one response – it is very important to read every question carefully.
- Some questions are worth more than one mark
Always check how many marks each question is worth and make sure enough detail is provided to gain the full amount of marks. A question worth more marks means you will need to give more information and more detail. The best way to prepare for this is to practice questions that require more detailed answers.
- Identify the purpose of a text
Rather than giving a summary of what the text is saying, it is important to identify its purpose: what is the aim of the text? Examples include texts aiming to advise, to advertise or to persuade. The best way to practice is to look at a variety of different written contexts, such as news articles, blog posts etc. and identify their aims.
- Complete the paper
Answering all of the questions gives you the best chance of succeeding in the exam. It is important to spend time looking at time management and exam technique to ensure that you have the best chance to complete the paper to a high standard.
Even if you do not know the answer to a question, put something down. You are more likely to get a mark by writing something you are unsure about than if you leave the answer blank.
There are some elements that are specific to the different Levels of English Reading exams. Make sure that you are aware of these specific elements depending on which exam you are taking, and practice them to become best-prepared for taking the exam.
- Level 1 – Using information
If you are taking the Level 1 exam, you must be able to go further than just identifying information in the texts. The key skill here is to be able to find the information in the text and interpret it. The best preparation for this skill is to learn how to infer meaning and use context clues.
- Level 2 – Identifying features
For this criteria, candidates need to identify features of texts e.g. headings, subheadings, bullet points, numbers or images. These features are present in all different types of writing, and the easiest way to practice is to go online and look at different types of writing, identifying these structural features as you go along. This could include news articles, blogs and any other online written content.
- Prepare to identify language features
Language features such as bias, persuasion and humour may also be included in the exam texts. You should make sure that you are aware of these terms, what they mean, and be prepared to identify the features in the text.
Final Advice – Practice makes perfect
The most useful tip we can give to improve your English reading skills is to keep practising! Reading as much written content as possible will get you best prepared and give you the best chance of passing the exam. Take a look at some examples online and practice using the tips we’ve laid out as much as possible to make sure that you are best prepared for the exam.