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Acing Your Reading Exams: Why Tips and Hacks Won't Help and What to Do Instead

One of the biggest mistakes I see students make in their exam preparation journey is that they prioritize "tips" and "hacks" over improving their overall English level.

While seeking "shortcuts" and "hacks" may get you 1-2 more correct answers or help you save a couple of minutes, it's essential to recognize that true success lies in improving your overall English proficiency.

Stop Googling "Hacks"

In the quest for quick results, it's tempting to rely on hacks, tips, and tricks that promise to boost your reading scores overnight.

However, these shortcuts often provide only temporary relief and fail to address the core issue: building a strong foundation in English.

Mastering a language requires consistent effort and a deep understanding of the ins and outs of the language.

So, instead of searching for shortcuts, focus on cultivating your language skills holistically.


Building vocabulary is especially important and is crucial regardless of which exam you are preparing for and what question types you are tackling, because words are the building blocks of a passage.

Of course, in the ideal world, you can build your vocabulary through extensive reading. The sad truth is...most of us don't have the luxury of time...

So if you are pressed for time, hone in on your ability to infer the meaning of words from contextual clues.

Also, practise "Active Reading" and take notes. Engage actively with the text by highlighting key points, looking up unfamiliar words/phrases, summarizing paragraphs, and checking your own understanding. Keep a vocabulary log. Regularly review your notes. This practice aids in long-term retention and reinforces your understanding.

Reading Materials

Exposing yourself to different reading materials helps you understand the structure of different text types, as well as different writing styles and vocabulary.

Incorporating a wide variety of reading materials, such as news articles, opinion pieces, and academic journals, into your reading practice exposes you to how the language is used in real-world contexts, enhancing both comprehension and cultural understanding.

Skimming and Scanning

While skimming and scanning can be valuable reading techniques, relying solely on them might lead to missing important details.

Strike a balance between speed-reading techniques and careful comprehension. Always check your answers at the end.

Understanding Inference and Context

Texts often contain implicit information, requiring you to infer meaning from the context. Improving your inference skills involves analyzing the writer's purpose, tone, and underlying message, enabling you to grasp the overall meaning more accurately.

If it doesn't get scheduled, it doesn't get done

This is certainly true for me, especially if it's something I'm not particularly passionate about.

Schedule 10 minutes each day to read.

Remember, if you genuinely want to ace your reading exams, shortcuts or hacks won't get you there. Invest your time in regular reading, active engagement with texts, and expanding your vocabulary.

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