IELTS Reading : Short Answer Question Tips

IELTS Reading : Short Answer Question Tips
IELTS Reading: Short Answer Question Tips

Short answer questions are often seen as some of the simplest to answer by students. You must read a text and provide one to three-word responses to a series of questions. This post will help you answer short answer questions better by showing you a sample question, pointing out common mistakes, and giving you a plan for the day of the test.

It's tempting to try to rush through the questions because these IELTS Reading questions are typically not too challenging. As a result, idiotic errors are made. Take caution not to lose any crucial points in this manner.

Short Answer Question in IELTS Test

Short-answer questions on IELTS Reading are highly similar to sentence completion questions. Again, you should answer questions using just textual quotations. These questions, known as 'comprehension' questions, are common in English classrooms worldwide. Most students have previously answered these questions, and as a result, most students do pretty well with them. And you’re given a word limit (for example: write no more than two words). Despite this, some common issues cause students to make errors and lose marks. The only difference is that you must obviously complete sentences in sentence completion.  And in short-answer questions, you may have to complete sentences or answer questions.

In order to better understand other types of IELTS Reading questions, Tips for answering True, False, Not Given IELTS Reading.

Skills Tested in Short Answer Question of IELTS Reading

This section assesses your ability to:
  • Ability to skim the passage quickly and understand the overall meaning.
  • Ability to scan for specific information.
  • Understand the question being asked.
  • Identify keywords.
  • Think of possible synonyms and paraphrases of keywords.

Short Answer Question Example

The Endangered African Rhino

The rhinoceros is Africa’s armored giant – like a tank on legs – and has been on our planet for millions of years. But right now they need our help. Poaching of rhinos for their horns and habitat loss are huge threats to both white and black rhinos.

White rhinos (the name doesn’t come from their colour but originally a reference to their ‘wide’ mouths) have had mixed fortunes. Sadly there are no ‘northern’ white rhinos left in the wild, and only a handful in captivity. But the ‘southern’ white rhino is a conservation success story – it’s been helped back from under 100 in 1895 to over 20,000 in the wild today.

For the black rhino (slightly smaller, with a more pointed top lip) the worst period was between 1970 and 1992, when around 96% of them were lost to wide-scale poaching. Only 5,000 are left in the wild today.

Poaching of rhinos for rhino horn is still a huge threat, and the poachers have got increasingly better equipped. To ensure that these incredibly precious creatures survive, more action needs to be taken against this Illegal wildlife trade.
Source: WWF Website
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.
  1. What are African rhinoceros compared to? (tank on legs)
  2. Which type of rhino fell in number to below a hundred? (Southern White Rhino)
  3. What percentage of black rhinos had been illegally killed by 1992? (96%)
  4. How have the criminals improved their success? (Better equipped)

Common Problem Answering Short Answer

There are some common errors that students make when answering IELTS reading short answer questions.
  1. Lack of vocabulary and word limit is the most common issue that most IELTS test takers face when answering IELTS reading short answer questions. This is because any answer that exceeds the word limit will be incorrect.
  2. Summary and Paraphrasing is the next problem that is usually faced by IELTS test takers. If you are unfamiliar with the synonyms, you will most likely search for keywords in the text that match those in the questions. This is a complete waste of time.
  3. Read the whole paragraph and don't focus on the keywords in the question, Do not read every word of the provided text. As previously stated, IELTS reading questions assess your ability to skim and scan for specific information. Don't waste time trying to figure out any unfamiliar words in the text. Furthermore, do not spend too much time or become overly concerned with the word and its meaning.
  4. Test takers do not understand what is meant by the question text and either panic or spend too much time trying to figure out what it means.
  5. Not reading the question instructions, is a trivial problem in doing the IELTS Reading questions, but it often happens. Students will answer not according to instructions such as "NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER", then with this answer, you will be directly false, Keep in mind that your answers do not have to be grammatically correct, so stick to the word limit.

Tips for Answering IELTS Reading Short Answer Question

Here some tips so you can answer short answer questions quickly, precisely and correctly:
  1. Read the instructions carefully - these tell you how many words you can use (a maximum of three in this case)
  2. The answers appear in the same order as the text, so use words from the text rather than your own in IELTS short answer questions, and don't change the words.
  3. Skim all the questions to get a feel for what you'll need to look up in the text.
  4. The answers do not need to be grammatically correct; rather, they should be succinct.
  5. Do not offer your own judgment or opinion; instead, provide only the textual solution.
  6. There will typically be nouns or noun phrases used as keywords in the query, and if you find your keywords, always think of synonyms and paraphrases.
  7. Pay attention to the question words (who, what, who, when, where, which and how). 

Strategies for Answering IELTS Reading Short Answer Questions

Here are the strategies to crack the short answer questions of IELTS Reading:
  • Read the instructions carefully and keep in mind the word limit.
  • Understand the questions (this indicates that you know exactly what you're looking for)
  • Highlight the keywords in the questions on the exam paper.
  • While reading a passage, it is important to consider whether the meaning of a particular word is critical to answering the question. If not, simply move on.
  • Scan the text for the paragraph containing the answer.
  • When you find the answer paragraph, read it carefully and look for the answer.
  • Once you've figured out the answer to the given question, ensure you stay within the time limit specified in the instructions.
Experts strongly advise knowing the mistakes we frequently make to avoid them and progress to the correct answers. Following the aforementioned tips and strategies can assist you in effectively answering IELTS reading short answer questions.

If you are struggling with any other aspect of IELTS Reading, please click on the link below to access our IELTS Reading Practice.

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