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Managing your time in the exam and beyond

Watch Nuria, a learner of English, discussing time management with Pauline Cullen. This is important at university as well as in the IELTS test.
So Pauline, why do we have just an hour for the Reading test? I always feel that I have to read so quickly. Yes, the Reading test, at the time, can be a problem for a lot of people, and time is an important part of the test because the reading you do when you’re a university student is very different to the reading you do when you’re reading for leisure or for pleasure, for example. You can’t possibly read every word in detail when you’re doing research for an assignment, for example, at university or even when you’re reading as a part of your professional life.
So there is specific reading skills that you need to develop in order to read widely without having to read every word in detail. And those are the same reading skills that you need to use in the test. So time is part of the way that we force you to use those reading skills in the test. I remembered in Week 3 we learned about different ways to read, like scanning the text quickly to find key information. Yep. And you also need to use skim reading. That’s to check the relevance of what you have found to make sure it’s relevant to the question that you’re trying to answer.
Then you also need to develop the skill of reading in detail just that part of the passage that you have found, and that will help you to answer the questions. So the Reading test questions force you to use all of those skills. Can I answer the questions in any order that I like? Well, yes, you can. But they are organised in the most logical way to help you use your time efficiently in the test. So actually the order they’re written would be the most efficient way for you to answer them in. So order is significant when it comes to practising for the test and answering the questions.
And Pauline, do you have any more tips to use time well in the Reading test? Yes, it’s important to remember that you have three separate sections to complete within the hour. But you also have to transfer your answers during that time. But also remember that it’s a test that goes all the way up to Band 9. So unless you’re a Band 9 candidate, there will be some questions that you can’t answer. So don’t be afraid to leave those questions and come back to them at the end if you have time. Time is also an issue for me in the Writing test. Do you have any tips for that? Yes, a lot of people have a problem with the Writing test.
The most important thing is to remember to only spend 20 minutes on the first Writing task question. A lot of people don’t do that, and they spend far too much time on Writing Task 1. One of the reasons for that is that they forget to summarise the information. And instead, they describe every single detail. It’s really important to spend 40 minutes on Writing Task 2. And if you spend too long on Writing Task 1, you will run out of time for Writing Task 2. So that means you won’t have time to carefully plan or carefully check your answer at the end.
And it’s important to remember that Writing Task 2 is worth double the marks of Writing Task 1, so that’s why you should spend double the time on Writing Task 2. Some people actually start with Writing Task 2 to help them to remember to spend all that time on it and then go back to Writing Task 1. What’s important to remember is that just like when you’re writing at university, you have to decide first on the main ideas that you want to get across. And then make sure that you make those main points in your essay or in your summary. Thank you, Pauline. Thanks.
When you are at university, an important skill is managing your time. You will be very busy, and there won’t be time to carefully read every page of every book!
Watch Nuria and Pauline discuss managing your time, and in particular how you can do this in the IELTS test.
Here is a reminder of the time you have for each IELTS paper.
Listening40 questionsApproximately 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes’ transfer time)
Reading40 questions60 minutes
Writing2 tasks60 minutes
Speaking3 parts11 – 14 minutes
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