IELTS Reading Multiple Choice Tips

Multiple choice questions can be tricky, but you can use this 8-step method to help you answer the question.

Step 1- Read the question

Before you read the question, cover up the answers and keep them covered until Step 5. By covering up the answers, you better focus on the question. Question 10 reads:

Research completed in 1982 found that in the United States soil erosion

Step 2Understand the question

Try to reword the question. What Question 10 is asking is:

What happened to soil erosion in the US in 1982? What does the passage say about soil erosion in 1982 America?

Step 3Summarise the answer to the question in your own words

Remember: You should still have the answers to Question 10 covered up. Try to summarise what you remember reading about soil erosion in 1982 in the U.S.

Step 4- Reread

If you can’t summarise the answer in your own words, go back and reread the section that related to the question. In paragraph 1, it reads:

The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil’s productivity.  The country subsequently embarked upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow or forest.  Topsoil in India and China is vanishing much faster than in America.

Step 5- Read and understand the answers

There are four answers to Question 10. They are labeled A,B,C,D.

The answers options are:

A– reduced the productivity of farmland by 20 per cent.

B– was almost as severe as in India and China.

C- was causing significant damage to 20 per cent of farmland.

D- could be reduced by converting cultivated land to meadow or forest.

Step 6- Cross out the incorrect answers

Immediately, you should know that B is incorrect because the passage said topsoil was vanishing faster in China and India than in the U.S. So you can cross out option B.

You can cross out option A because while the productivity of the farmland is mentioned, there is no mention of the rate of productivity loss. If you recall the passage it says,

About one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil’s productivity.

You are left with options C and D. Option D says converting cultivated land to meadows or forests could reduce soil erosion. This is a possible answer. Remember that with multiple choice questions, one answer may be more correct than the other. The text does state that 11% of cropped land was converted to meadows and forests. However, there isn’t an explicit statement in the text that says soil erosion could be reduced by converting the cropped land. You can cross out Option D.

Step 7- Circle the correct answer

You are then left with answer C. Answer C states that soil erosion was causing significant damage to 20 per cent of farmland. Recalling the passage, the passage states:

One-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil’s productivity.

As you know, one-fifth equals 20 per cent, and 20 per cent of American farmland topsoil was diminishing at a significant rate. In this instance, C is the most correct answer.

Step 8- Double check your work

Last step is to reread your full answer with the question statement included:

Research completed in 1982 found that in the United States soil erosion was causing significant damage to 20 per cent of farmland.

Once you choose your answer, be sure to check that the answer you chose is the answer you filled in on your answer sheet. You worked so hard to find the correct answer, double check your work to be rewarded for your effort.

***Note that you can reread the passage, questions and answers as many times as needed, but remember that there are 40 Reading Section questions to be answered in only 60 minutes. Use your time wisely.***

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