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The SUN Method
The IELTS Reading paper is probably different from other reading exams you’ve taken before. It certainly requires some special skills and strategies in order to do well. So that’s what we’re going to look at in this lesson. We’re going to present what’s called, the SUN Method. And this is an approach to answer IELTS reading questions that should help you In order to control the amount of time that you spend on each reading passage and to answer each question type effectively.
So, let’s take a look at this method and how it can help you on the reading paper. First I wanna start by discussing just very quickly the standard approach to taking a reading exam. This is something that you’ve probably done before, in your English classes. So the standard approach, is to carefully read a passage from beginning to end, and then answer comprehension questions about the passage.
This makes a lot of sense. Your teachers want to have you read a passage and then test what you are able to figure out and what you knew after reading it one time. Unfortunately if you take this approach on the IELTS exam, it will be very difficult for you. And the reason is that the time is too limited to carefully read a passage and then enter all the questions on the IELTS exam.
You only have 60 minutes and you have several passages to read. And time is simply too limited for most people to finish all the questions in a short one hour period. Secondly, IELTS questions are difficult to answer using the standard approach. They ask you many detail questions or other types of main idea questions that are tough to answer if you only read the passage one time.
So, you need a different way of approaching the passages and the questions. And that’s what we are going to look at in this lesson. We need to find a good solution for approaching each of this question and passages. So, what is it?
Well as we’ve already said several times, it is definitely not to read the entire passage carefully from beginning to end. For IELTS reading questions, you should instead strategically search for answers to the questions in the passage instead of reading each passage carefully. This means really what you are going to do is begin with the questions. You start with the questions you need the answer and you go search for the answers in the passage that the approach that works best and I.
Now you need a strategy in this you need a general approach and that what we are looking at here. The general approach to answering questions in this way we’re going to call the SUN method. SUN stands for skimming and scanning, underlining and note taking. Okay, as you can see that spells SUN here.
All right, so let’s start with skimming and scanning. Now if you’re not familiar with skimming and scanning, or if you haven’t seen it yet, there is a whole lesson on skimming and scanning in the intro to IELT skills section of your lessons. So go there if you need to learn about skimming, okay? Here we’re going to just talk about how to use it with these reading questions in the SUN method.
Okay, so when you come to a new passage the first thing you should do Is take a few seconds to look at the question types you’re going to answer. We are going to cover all the different question types in your reading lessons. So by the time you take the exam, you should be able to quickly identify what question type you’ll need to answer. Then you want to go and skim the passage.
So after you’ve looked what question type you’re going to answer then turn to your passage. And if you are taking the General Training IELTS exam, expect to spend about 30 seconds to 2 minutes skimming the shorter passages that come at the beginning of the General Training reading paper. At the end of the General Training reading paper you are going to have a longer passage.
And all of the academic reading passages are long as well. So for those you should spend two to four minutes skimming the passage. You are doing this instead of reading it carefully from beginning to end. Reading carefully from beginning to end might take you 10 minutes or 12 minutes. So skimming is going to save you time. And if you do it strategically, you’re going to get the information you need to approach the questions.
Your goal in skimming the passage is basically to get the gist of the article and in addition to the gist Getting a sense of the organization of the passage as well. So you want to get some information as you are searching through the passage about what each paragraph is about. Again go to our Skimming lessons, Skimming and Scanning in the IELTS skills section of your lessons and get some tips on how to use skimming to find these pieces of information, okay.
So skimming is the first part of SUN, and it is the foundation for the skill. So what we’re gonna describe next, the underlining and note taking Is all part of this process of skimming. You’re going to underline and take notes as you skim the passage and the questions in order to figure out how to answer the questions The best way possible. So let’s do that, let’s go to underlining next.
So after you’ve skimmed the passage, okay, then you go to the directions and the questions. If it helps you, go ahead and underline the answer sheet format that you’re supposed to use to answer the question. So if there sure answer, or are you supposed to answer led with letters or numerals.
Make sure you know the word count and number count here. And if it helps you go head and undermine them, so you can go, and remember that or be reminded of that information quickly later on. Okay, but more importantly than this, then you want to go and underline any keywords that are found in the directions. The directions for different types of questions will generally stay the same and so through our lessons, and then through the practice questions you do you will become pretty familiar with what the directions say.
But every set of directions will ask you to look for something a little bit different, there will be a focus to the directions that is directing you to certain kinds of information in the passage. For example, let’s imagine we have a matching question and in the directions it tells us match each item with the person who invented it. You’d want to underline person who invented because that is the information you’re supposed to search for in the passage.
Okay? You’re going to search for people who invented things. So your answer is going to be a person, and that person is going to be an inventor. And that’s the key information that you will need to search for in the passage to answer each question in this series of questions.
All right, your underlining allows you to remember that and stay focused on that task alone. Then you want to go to questions and do a very similar things, so this information is often in the directions. In the questions then, you want to go and underline key words from the questions. Remember that correct answers are almost always paraphrases in the passage.
So by underlining key words, and I’m talking about just taking a few seconds to go through the questions you’re answering and make underlines of the key words you’re in searching for. This will help you to look for paraphrases in the passage to help you answer the question. Okay, so far we’ve seen the whole passage and now we’ve looked quickly through the directions and the questions.
To underline keywords and the main purposed of the question that we are trying to answer. What we’re supposed to be were looking for as we go back to the passage in searched for answers. A second step then is to used notes to do something very similar to what you just did with undermining.
But this time your notes are going to be related to the passage. Not really the question but the passage itself. All right. So, as you scanning and as you finding information to answer your questions You want to help yourself by writing one or two words notes in the margins of a reading passage. The margins, okay so if the lines of our reading passages are here, the margins are the space on either side where you can write some notes to yourself.
You don’t wanna write long notes, one or two words is fine, but there are some reminders and some notes that will help you to answer questions if you put them in the margins of your reading passage. So your notes should target the type of information being tested in the question. Some question types are only about main ideas, and again, we’re going to learn about those question types in your lesson.
Part if you’re looking for main ideas then you should definitely label each paragraph with the main idea of that paragraph one or two words to help you remember what that paragraph is about. Are you looking at a flow chart or a flow chart shows you a process from beginning to end. Okay if you’re looking at a chart, that relates to the reading, probably the different paragraphs of the reading or maybe one paragraph will be about that process.
And it will give you steps in the process. So you should, in your reading passage and alongside the margins, label the steps as you find them in the passage. You know by looking at the questions that you’re supposed to find this information. So you label it to know where to look when answering to questions. You could write step one, step two whatever makes sense.
For that particular chart you are looking at. There are some questions ties with the answers in order. So you find the answer to number one before you find the answer to number two in the passage. On this kinds of questions, write a note. If you find an answer that you are very confident is correct.
Then that’s part in the reading passage where you found that answer, is a good place to label and identify answer for number ten because answer for number seven, eight and nine are going to come before that in the passage. It gives you a sign and a reminder as you’re answering other questions to let you know where to look in the passage to find those answers.
Okay, so this is the SUN method in general. It involves instead of reading a whole passage from beginning to end It involves skimming it an scanning it. First, you skim at the beginning, in order to get the main idea and the gist of the article. Then, you go to the directions and the questions and you underline key information, trying to find out what is it that I’m supposed to go look for In the passage.
As you do this you can also underline ideas in the passage itself, but it really helpful to take notes as you’re skimming. As you’re looking through the passage you take notes on the different parts of the passage related to What information you need to find for each question type, if you’re trying to find steps in the process, then you labeled the different steps that you find in the passage along the margins.
If you’re supposed to find different people and what they did then label each paragraph related to what it’s about and which person it discusses. Okay, your notes, your underlining and your ability to skim and scan to gather information about the article Is a key strategy for approaching Iode’s reading questions where you just don’t have time to read the whole thing carefully from beginning to end.
You need an approach like the SUN method in order to save yourself time and search for only that information you need to find for each question type.
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