IELTS Preparation Unit 6: Reading

Hello, it’s Jill from Kaplan Manchester again.  I hope you are all enjoying your IELTS studies.  Some tips for self-study today. 

My IELTS students often ask me –  ‘Jill, how can I improve my reading/writing/listening/speaking score?  I am doing practice tests every week but my scores are not improving fast enough…’

I always ask them what else they are doing, as it is not enough to do practice tests again and again.  If you want to improve your reading score, you must read a lot in English.  If you want to improve your listening score, you must listen to a lot of English.  You get the picture!

Try this activity that I often do with my students, it’s great for expanding your vocabulary and improving all of the skills you need for IELTS.  It’s most effective with a friend/colleague, but you could easily follow the steps alone.   Go to –

This is an English newspaper which is fantastic for IELTS students as it has many of the topics we commonly find in the exam – news/sport/culture/business/travel/environment/technology.

  1. Choose a topic you are studying and then choose an article within that topic.  Let’s try ‘Culture’ as you have been looking at museums and exhibitions, then the sub-heading ‘Art and Design’
  2. Choose an article within that topic.  I’ve chosen ‘Art blog with Jonathon Jones – Why has looking at art in Britain become a snob’s rite of passage?
  3. Read the article for general understanding, no dictionary!  What are your opinions of what the writer has said?
  4. Now write a summary of the article in your own words.  Imagine you are going to explain the main points of the article to a friend/your teacher.
  5. Compare your summary with the original article, have you captured the main ideas?
  6. Choose 5-10 words in the article which are new/interesting to you and research their meaning and usage, then record them in your vocabulary notebook.  (Can you think of any synonyms for the words? is a very useful site, IELTS is all about synonyms!)
  7. Now take the time to read the article in detail, trying to understand every word with your dictionary.
  8. If you’re working with a friend/colleague, then read them your summary and answer any questions they have.  Finally, teach them the words you have learned. Hopefully they will then do the same for you!

Here is how I would approach steps 3-6.
3.  I agree with the writer to a certain extent.  I think that there are a lot of snobbish attitudes towards art and that often people talk about it just to be seen as cool/knowledgeable without really loving or understanding the works they pretend to like.

It is ridiculous to me that young people applying to university should be told to have ‘middle-class’ experiences to fit in.  These students should be encouraged to go to galleries or the theater to explore the art forms and form their own opinions, not to advance themselves socially.

Art should be for everyone to enjoy/criticize as they see fit.  Personally, I love visiting my local art gallery in Manchester as it is very accessible to everyone, there is no snobbery there, and they organize regular activities for all ages and interests.

4.  The writer is criticizing the fact that there is so much snobbery and elitism which surrounds art, contemporary art in particular.  He dislikes the fact that some people see appreciating art as something you do just to fit into a particular class of society, instead of truly loving art works for their own merit.

For example, a government official has said, patronizingly, that working class students need to go and see art to be more middle-class, which will help them get into university.  ‘This hateful art snobbery has nothing to do with a true love of art – it is just about being able to talk the talk.’

He states that while posh people used to hate modern art, as soon as lower class people started to dislike it, the posh suddenly decided they liked it.

So for many people, liking art is no different than any other fashionable activity that makes you fit into a certain part of society, like going to the latest restaurant or wearing trendy clothes.


snob  - classless - posh - accomplishment - simplicity - broadly - minutely - simplicity - austerity - therefore - absorb

accomplishment /əˈkʌmplɪʃm(ə)nt/ (countable noun) - something that has been achieved successfully. "the reduction of inflation was a remarkable accomplishment"

synonyms: achievement, act, deed, exercise, exploit, performance, attainment, effort, feat, maneuver, operation, move, stunt, stratagem, coup, master stroke, stroke of genius, triumph

This is a challenging exercise!  However, repeating this activity on a regular basis will help expand your lexical and grammatical range, areas which are assessed in the IELTS exam, as well as improving your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.  Enjoy!

Our other IELTS preparation articles:

1. Reading for Keywords
2. Capitalization
3. Tips for Speaking
4. Writing on the Subject
5. Pronouncing "S" and "Z"
7. Listening Practice
8. Grammar: Nouns and Verbs

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