There are four Reading exercises in the English as a Second Language 0510/0511 Reading and Writing papers － for both Paper 1 (Core) and Paper 2 (Extended). Here, we provide five exam tips to score well in Reading.
Write short answers
You do not have to write full sentences in the reading part. Writing two or three words, sometimes even one, is sufficient to answer these questions. Show the examiner that you understand the passage well and that you are able to provide the right answer.
For example, if the question asks: “How often is the carnival held?”, you can answer “once a year” or “annually”.
There is no need to answer, “The carnival is held once a year” or “The carnival is held annually”.
In this way, you save time for questions that require longer response time.
Remember the units
For questions that ask how much, how many, quantity, price, etc., remember to include the units.
This is a common mistake students make. Not providing units will result in losing marks.
For example, if the question asks: “What is the percentage of drop-out in year 2002?”, you can answer “20%” or “20 percent” or “twenty percent”.
If you are writing numbers, be sure to spell them out right. All measurement units MUST be included, such as dollar ($), pound (£), euro (€), kilometre (km), hours, litre (ℓ) and so on. You can use either the full spelling or just the symbol.
Finding key words
When reading the questions, look for the key words to find the answers in the passage.
For example, if the question asks ‘Why do some “samba” schools play in their own districts?’, the key words would be ‘samba schools’ and ‘play in their own districts’.
You can quickly underline these key words in the questions and skim the passage for them.
Skimming and scanning
Skimming means quickly going through the passage to look for key words. It is best if you underline key words, or you can enclose them in brackets.
Sometimes the same key word is used in several parts of the passage. In this case, you will have to scan each ‘location’ to find the right answer. Scanning means to do a ‘deeper’ reading to understand the meaning of each use of the key word. In fact, the answers could be in all the ‘locations’ you found. This is especially common for questions that ask for several facts or points.
Watch for rephrased
Notice that words from the article are often rephrased in the questions. For example, the article states, ‘One in four young people has neither a computer nor a mobile phone’. Whilst the question asks ‘What percentage of young people have no computer or mobile phone?’.
‘One in four’ means ¼ , so the answer is 25%.