English-language learners can improve their reading skills by reading regularly, especially university textbooks or other materials that cover a variety of subject areas (e.g., sciences, social sciences, arts, business, etc.) and are written in an academic style. A wide variety of academic texts are available on the Internet as well as in magazines and journals.
* Reading to Find Information
– Scan passages to find and highlight key facts (dates, numbers, terms) and information.
– Practice frequently to increase reading rate and fluency.
* Reading for Basic Comprehension
– Increase vocabulary. Flashcards can help.
– Practice skimming a passage quickly to get a general impression of the main idea, instead of carefully reading each word and each sentence.
– Develop the ability to skim quickly and identify major points.
– After skimming a passage, read it again more carefully and write down the main idea, major points, and important facts.
– Choose some unfamiliar words in the passage and guess the meaning from the context (surrounding sentences). Then, look them up to determine their meaning.
– Underline all pronouns (e.g., he, him, they, them, etc.) and identify the nouns to which they refer in the passage.
– Practice making inferences and drawing conclusions based on what is implied in the passage as a whole.
Notes: The Reading section does not measure summarizing skills, but practicing them builds the skills required for the integrated tasks in the Speaking and Writing sections.
* Reading to Learn
– Identify the passage type (e.g., classification, cause/effect, compare/contrast, problem/solution, description, narration, etc.) and its organization.
– Organize the information in the passage:
o Create an outline of the passage to distinguish between major and minor points.
o If the passage categorizes information, create a chart and place the information in appropriate categories.
o Create an oral or written summary of the passage using the charts and outlines.
o Paraphrase individual sentences in a passage. Then, paraphrase entire paragraphs.