In the IELTS reading test, you will need to be very careful of reference words. That is, words like this, that, he, she, it and they. They refer back to previous parts of the reading passage and tell you exactly what the current sentence is talking about. Here is an example passage. The words in blue are reference words. Note how the first reference word – this – points back to the previous sentence, and is referring to stress. The second reference word – these factors – is plural, so refers back to more than one thing. In this example, it refers to pressure from work, home life and the daily commute in traffic jams. The third reference word in this passage is a little more complicated. Although it is a reference word, in this example it does not refer to anything specific. It is known as the dummy subject. Here are two other examples of ‘it’ being used as the dummy subject.