CELPIP Reading’s MOST IMPORTANT Tips That Will Help You Score More Every Time!
The reading section of the CELPIP exam proves difficult for many, time and again. You put all your focus into reading the paragraphs, only to scramble as you frantically search for answers to the questions because you have run out of time. This section is not just about your English ability – there is a considerable amount of strategy involved as well! Here are some tips and tricks to help you master each part of the reading section on your CELPIP exam.
The CELPIP reading section is split into four parts, each focused on slightly different elements of reading ability. Part 1 is reading correspondence, Part 2 is reading to apply a diagram, Part 3 is reading for information, and Part 4 is reading for viewpoints. The first thing to note is that what you do in Parts 1, 3, and 4 is very similar, while Part 2 requires a slightly different approach. Let’s begin by reviewing Part 1.
By the way, if you wanna skip to my YouTube tutorial of this lesson instead, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgvkjUMDNbI&t=85s
Part 1: First thing’s first
The very first thing you should do in Part 1 is read the questions. This may seem counter-intuitive, but stick with me! You want to read at least two questions at a time. Scan these questions for keywords – keywords will be anything that seems important, like names or overarching themes and topics. Once you have found some keywords in the first two questions, go back to the passage and find those keywords, or something related to them. For example, if you have a keyword like “John,” you will probably be able to find that exact word without a problem. But, if you have a phrase, such as “The company had a successful year,” you may search for things like “profitable year” or “a year of good reviews.” Essentially, you are keeping an eye out for synonyms and similar concepts, as they may not use the exact same wording in the paragraph as they do in the question. So, search for keywords and their synonyms, and when you find them, read that section of the reading only. Then, you can answer questions one and two. Once you have completed these, you can continue with questions three, four, and so on, using this same strategy.
Why do we do it this way? The logic in our approach
So, why read the questions first? Because everything in CELPIP is scattered. We don’t know where the answer for a certain question is – it could be in paragraph one, paragraph three, in paragraph 5 for all we know. It’s not in sequence. We use this method because if you read the whole passage first, you will forget what you have read by the time it comes to answering the questions (I can guarantee it!). You would waste a lot of time reading the entire passage, reading the questions one by one, and then searching through the passage each time for the answer. With our method, you only read once, and you are reading exactly what you need to know to answer the question each time. Efficiency is the name of the game!
Part 1: The second section
There are six questions in the first part of Part 1, each of which are multiple choice. Once you’ve done those questions, using our method, you will have read the whole passage. Now, you have a good idea of what this reading is about. When it comes to the response, which comprises questions seven through eleven, you don’t have to go back and read everything. You can answer response letters in Part 1 using your observations from answering the previous questions and skimming through the whole passage at first glance. CELPIP strategy is like a puzzle – can you see the pieces fitting together yet?
Part 1: Manage your time!
As you can see, the idea here is to save yourself time and energy by reading and answering the questions as efficiently as possible. This is why for the first six questions in Part 1, you will read everything in detail. You’ll want to give 70% of your time to this first section, and the response can take the remaining 30%. This is because at this point, you will have already read everything, and you will remember the context and content because you answered the questions. So, just by looking at the response, looking at the sentences there and assessing the tone, you will be able to get the answers. Don’t spend too much time here, but just keep an eye out for things that make sense based on what you remember. And, of course, if you need to, you can go back and re-read for information you can’t remember.
Part 4: A similar approach
When we go to Part 4, it’s the same deal. You look at the questions (in this case, questions one through five), go back to the passage with the keywords from the questions, and then find your answers. Once you have read everything, including the comment from the other individual, you will be able to answer questions six through ten with ease, without needing to go back to check and re-read every time. So, Part 1 and Part 4 follow the same strategy – and, as you can see, the structure of the questions is the same as well.
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Part 4: The secret to success
The secret to Part 4 is that there is an argument. So, as long as you can understand the argument, you can figure out how the whole flow of the conversation works. There are always two people fighting, with one person giving one opinion, and the other person giving another. So, you just have to understand what they are fighting about. One person will always be supporting something, and the other is always going to have opposite opinions. Remember that they are having a debate, so you have to understand the tone and understand what they are fighting about. Once you know the details of the debate, you know what each character believes, the answers will become apparent. The questions will ask you what the characters are fighting about and what points they disagree on specifically, so knowing the base of the argument will help you immensely.
Part 3: A variation on tradition
In Part 3, you are presented with questions that you have to match with the paragraphs. The first thing to do is – you guessed it! – read the questions. Here, however, you have to read all the questions, not just two at a time. This is because we don’t know where the answers will be. We don’t know if Question 8 is going to be in Paragraph A, or if Question 2 is going to be in Paragraph D. Because there is no surefire way to connect questions to paragraphs, we must read all the questions to get a better idea.
Part 3: A closer look
When you read the questions, again, you will be searching for keywords. In this part, though, you want to try to memorize the keywords as you read. It’s impossible to memorize everything, of course, but try your best – whatever your mind remembers will be good enough. So, let’s say you pick some keywords like “economy,” “health,” and “medicine.” You go back and you skim through, and you see the word “prescription.” This triggers your memory, and you think, wait a minute – one of my keywords was medicine! So now, you’ll go back down and find the question about medicine, and match it with the paragraph. For example, if Question 7 asks about medicine, and Paragraph A talks about prescriptions, they match. In sum, you should read all of the question first, remember the keywords, and then when you read through the passage, you can identify the relevant paragraphs more quickly.
Part 3: Avoid these common mistakes!
So, you’ve gone through each paragraph and matched it to a question. Keep in mind that each paragraph may match with more than one question. You pick the answers one by one and find their paragraphs, and whatever is left at the end is simply the “not given” option. You don’t actively have to look for “not given,” because if you just find everything else first, it will be the only thing left at the end. Whatever you couldn’t match is “not given.” Another common mistake to avoid is eliminating your options as you progress. Let’s say you match Question 2 with Paragraph A, and now you’re moving on to Paragraph B. Now, because you have chosen Question 2, you eliminate it, and look at all the other question options for Paragraph B, like 1, 3, 4, 5, and so on. Don’t do this! You don’t know if your Answer 2 for Paragraph A is correct – we are just guessing at this point. We’re trying our best, but keep looking! In Paragraph B, look at all the options – including number 2. Maybe Question 2 is a better match for Paragraph B! So, perhaps this is a better answer than Paragraph A. Then, from there, you continue to read and look for other matches. The main takeaway here is not to think of any of your answers until the very end, because some other paragraph later on might be a better fit for them.
Check out our hardest reading passage! This will make you CRY! Answers attached: https://hzadeducation.com/2022/11/30/celpip-reading-test-free/
Part 2: A new method
Part 2 is the most different section. Not difficult, just different – because it’s a picture. So, this is the only part where you should not read the questions first, but just look at the picture. The reason here is that the picture is quick! There aren’t as many words or sentences here, so there is not much to read. You can read it in a few minutes, get a very good idea from the picture, and then answer the questions with what you have gleaned from your first read through. When you are answering the questions, look at the keywords in Questions 1 – 5 or so, and look at the initial paragraph that is related to the picture. Look at the keywords in the sentences, go up to the picture, and match them according to what makes sense.
Part 2: The next section
In Part 2, you are reading a letter, and there are questions that you are answering within that letter. Then, there are the multiple choice questions you are answering based on that letter. When you do this last part of Part 2, which is only three or four questions, you have to determine the answers that are related to the first section of Part 2. What happens most often is that Questions 1 – 5 are for the paragraph in Part 2, and Questions 6 – 8 are based on that paragraph. Then, the answers that you will get from those three or four questions at the end (Questions 5, 6, 7, and 8) will be some things that are very subtle in the first paragraph. Let’s take a look at an example, and I’ll show you what I mean.
Part 2: A closer look
Let’s say, for instance, that the first paragraph has ten sentences, and to answer the questions, you just had to read eight of them. You didn’t even read the ninth and tenth sentences because they were unnecessary, as you already had your answers. What will probably happen now is that those ninth and tenth sentences will help you to find the answers for the remaining questions, which are the last three or four questions in Part 2. So, whatever is missing, whatever you didn’t pay attention to in the first section of reading Part 2, pay attention to that in the next section. It is more than likely that the answers are going to be from the rest of that part of the reading.
Maybe you consider yourself a speed reader, or maybe it takes you ten minutes to read two sentences. Maybe your reading comprehension is unparalleled. At the end of the day, these skills will help you, but they ultimately take a back seat when it comes to the CELPIP reading section. The most important thing you can do in preparation, no matter your skill or prowess, is learn these tricks and strategies for getting through the reading section accurately and efficiently. With these methods, you will ace the CELPIP reading section and get top marks!