IELTS Reading Subskill: Finding details
Reading
IELTS Reading Subskill: Finding details

In order to improve your chances of doing well in the Reading test, there are three key skills you will need to develop: finding details, identifying main ideas and understanding sentences. There is no clear-cut distinction between these different skills, and often, you will need to demonstrate more than one of them in order to answer a question correctly. However, these subskills are a useful tool to structure your studies and measure your progress.  In this blog, we will take a closer look at finding details. This skill is particularly important in note-completion tasks, sentence completion tasks, short answer questions and matching information. Finding details means identifying a specific word, number or idea in the text, but it also involves reading a text closely for ‘small’ words that might have a significant impact on the overall meaning of the sentence, so there is some overlap here with the ‘understanding sentences’ skill.  In order to improve this skill, there are three key areas you should look at: You should consider your exam strategy when faced with a ‘detailed’ question, you need to think about the kind of language you are likely to encounter, and you should think about what further study you need in order to develop this skill and prepare for the exam.  Strategy: By definition, you will not be able to get the answer to this question by just skimming the text. So, you should read the question carefully to identify the general context you are looking for and what detail you need to find. This means that before you can demonstrate your ability to find details, you will need to show that you can also identify main ideas. (So, again, there is some overlap between the skills here.) Then, you will have to find the relevant section and then you really need to slow down and analyse it very closely to arrive at the correct answer. If you would like to see me demonstrate how this is done in the test, why not check out my walkthrough of a real IELTS Reading Test, where I show you exactly how I approach each type of question.  Language: Most of the tasks that require you to find details, are easier to complete if you have a good understanding of syntax and word forms, because this allows you to identify in advance, what type of word you may be looking for. You may also want to look out for words and expressions that drastically change the meaning of sentences, for example negatives and comparatives as this may help you select the appropriate detail for your answer and for words and expressions that show the relationship between ideas. This is helpful in narrowing your section down to the particular phrase, word or number you are looking for.  Here is an example: (Click to enlarge) QUESTION: “The huarango tree was a crucial part of local inhabitants’ __________ a long time ago.” Just by looking at the question, we can see that we are looking for a noun, as the apostrophe at the end of the word ‘inhabitants’ ’ indicates what we call a possessive: “inhabitants’ …” = “… of the inhabitants”. Crucially, we get the information that we are looking for was the case ‘a long time ago’. In the text, we get “ancient people’s diet”, so we have a connection between a long time ago = ancient and inhabitants = people, we see that the missing word is diet (noun). Further study: There are a number of ways in which you can identify the best steps to take in order to make a further study plan: You could use the feedback from IELTS intelligence to help you. Another good way of identifying areas for development is to do a practice test and to see where you went wrong. Both IELTS Trainer 2 and The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS are really useful here, because they actually explain the answer rather than just telling you if you’re right or wrong. They are also full of great exam strategy tips. So, if you repeatedly drop points because you wrote a verb instead of a noun, you should revise word forms.  If grammar generally isn’t your strong point – and you’re certainly not alone in this – you may want to spend some time reviewing those aspects of sentences you generally struggle with. Here, I can recommend IELTS Grammar, because it approaches grammar in an IELTS context, which makes it a lot easier to see how grammar can help you perform well in the test and you get exposed to ‘IELTS vocabulary’ at the same time, which further helps with your reading skills.    If you found this helpful, check out my blogs on the other IELTS intelligence Reading subskills, identifying main ideas and understanding sentences. Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

4 May, 2021

IELTS Reading Subskill: Finding details

IELTS Reading Subskill: Finding details

In order to improve your chances of doing well in the Reading test, there are three key skills you will need to develop: finding details, identifying main ideas and understanding sentences. There is no clear-cut distinction between these different skills, and often, you will need to demonstrate more than one of them in order to answer a question correctly. However, these subskills are a useful tool to structure your studies and measure your progress.

In this blog, we will take a closer look at finding details. This skill is particularly important in note-completion tasks, sentence completion tasks, short answer questions and matching information. Finding details means identifying a specific word, number or idea in the text, but it also involves reading a text closely for ‘small’ words that might have a significant impact on the overall meaning of the sentence, so there is some overlap here with the ‘understanding sentences’ skill.

In order to improve this skill, there are three key areas you should look at: You should consider your exam strategy when faced with a ‘detailed’ question, you need to think about the kind of language you are likely to encounter, and you should think about what further study you need in order to develop this skill and prepare for the exam.

Strategy: By definition, you will not be able to get the answer to this question by just skimming the text. So, you should read the question carefully to identify the general context you are looking for and what detail you need to find. This means that before you can demonstrate your ability to find details, you will need to show that you can also identify main ideas. (So, again, there is some overlap between the skills here.) Then, you will have to find the relevant section and then you really need to slow down and analyse it very closely to arrive at the correct answer. If you would like to see me demonstrate how this is done in the test, why not check out my walkthrough of a real IELTS Reading Test, where I show you exactly how I approach each type of question.

Language: Most of the tasks that require you to find details, are easier to complete if you have a good understanding of syntax and word forms, because this allows you to identify in advance, what type of word you may be looking for. You may also want to look out for words and expressions that drastically change the meaning of sentences, for example negatives and comparatives as this may help you select the appropriate detail for your answer and for words and expressions that show the relationship between ideas. This is helpful in narrowing your section down to the particular phrase, word or number you are looking for.

Here is an example:

IELTS Reading Exercise from IELTS 15 Academic

(Click to enlarge)

QUESTION: “The huarango tree was a crucial part of local inhabitants’ __________ a long time ago.”

Just by looking at the question, we can see that we are looking for a noun, as the apostrophe at the end of the word ‘inhabitants’ ’ indicates what we call a possessive: “inhabitants’ …” = “… of the inhabitants”. Crucially, we get the information that we are looking for was the case ‘a long time ago’. In the text, we get “ancient people’s diet”, so we have a connection between a long time ago = ancient and inhabitants = people, we see that the missing word is diet (noun).

Further study: There are a number of ways in which you can identify the best steps to take in order to make a further study plan: You could use the feedback from IELTS intelligence to help you. Another good way of identifying areas for development is to do a practice test and to see where you went wrong. Both IELTS Trainer 2 and The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS are really useful here, because they actually explain the answer rather than just telling you if you’re right or wrong. They are also full of great exam strategy tips. So, if you repeatedly drop points because you wrote a verb instead of a noun, you should revise word forms.

If grammar generally isn’t your strong point – and you’re certainly not alone in this – you may want to spend some time reviewing those aspects of sentences you generally struggle with. Here, I can recommend IELTS Grammar, because it approaches grammar in an IELTS context, which makes it a lot easier to see how grammar can help you perform well in the test and you get exposed to ‘IELTS vocabulary’ at the same time, which further helps with your reading skills.

IELTS Reading Subskill Tip Box

 

If you found this helpful, check out my blogs on the other IELTS intelligence Reading subskills, identifying main ideas and understanding sentences.

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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