Success in the Reading exam requires two things. The first is understanding the test and building up skills and strategies for different types of questions. The other key is to do lots of practice tests, and in order for this to be most effective you should do actual past IELTS reading tests. These are available in the Cambridge books of past test papers. Note that the higher the number of the book the more recent it is. Try to use books 7 to 9 first, this is because books older than these are not as representative of the current test.
The main reason why I am so dogmatic (insistent) about using actual past test papers and not tests that have been created by others is because of the following reasons:
- Past test papers more accurately reflect what you’re likely to get in the real test. You want to get used to what you well experience in the real test and also build up skills and strategies for the real test.
- Past test papers have certain “tricks” that are used repeatedly to test candidates. You will only experience these tricks if you do the past test papers. For instance, with true false not given question certain words are often used to “trick you.” For example, “many” and “most” are not synonyms (most = over 50%, but many = could be less than 50% or could be more), so if the question says most and the article says many it is not given!
- You will only be able to get a reasonable idea of your level from past test papers. Tests that are not created by the IELTS organisation will not give you an accurate assessment. This is because the IELTS organisation trials tests before actually using them to make sure that they are of similar difficulty to other tests.