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Understand meaning in IELTS reading


Understand meaning in IELTS readingUnderstand meaning in IELTS reading. As you’ve probably experienced, it can sometimes be difficult to understand meaning in IELTS reading, and this can sometimes be caused by indirect sentences, where the meaning is (intentionally) not immediately clear.

Consider this sentence – what does it mean?

“Public healthcare, on the other hand, has nothing like the resources available to those with private healthcare.”

  1. Public healthcare has
    1. more resources than private healthcare
    2. very different resources to private healthcare
    3. fewer resources than private healthcare

The correct answer is  C. Hopefully the context helped you find the answer, but this is not always the case in the IELTS test, so test you skills with the sentences below:

Which option A-C means the same as the sentence in bold?

  • One thing that isn’t true about X is that the weather is always bad.
    1. The weather in X is never bad.
    2. The weather in X is always bad.
    3. The weather in X is sometimes good.

      Show answer 3

  • Y is a multicultural city. It’s the biggest city in Z. Most people think it’s the capital. This, however, is a common mistake.
    1. Y is the capital.
    2. Y is not the capital.
    3. Y is not the biggest city.

    Show answer 2

  • It’s highly unlikely that the government will reduce taxes.
    1. Taxes are likely to increase.
    2. The government will reduce taxes.
    3. Taxes probably won’t be reduced.

    Show answer 3

  • It’s a popular misconception that chocolate gives you spots.
    1. Spots are caused by eating chocolate.
    2. Most people are unaware that chocolate gives you spots.
    3. Spots are not caused by chocolate.

    Show answer 3

  • The number of private cars on the roads is getting bigger.
    1. There are more cars being driven than before.
    2. More and more private cars are getting bigger.
    3. Bigger roads are becoming more common.

    Show answer 1

  • It’s not unusual for most Japanese to clean themselves before having a bath.
    1. Most Japanese don’t clean themselves before having a bath.
    2. Most Japanese clean themselves before having a bath.
    3. Most Japanese find cleaning themselves before a bath very unusual.

    Show answer 2

  • Dr Johnson is not unlike his brother Dr Kerr.
    1. Dr Johnson looks similar to Dr Kerr.
    2. Dr Johnson doesn’t like Dr Kerr.
    3. Dr Johnson likes Dr Kerr.

    Show answer 1

  • Peter doesn’t think you should think the worst of people.
  1. Peter thinks you should think the best of people.
  2. Peter thinks you should think the worst of people.
  3. Peter doesn’t think about the worst people.

Show answer 1

Using prefixes

Prefixes are also very important when trying to understand more complex sentences. Here are some examples:

  • Miscommunication, even amongst speakers of the same language, can often lead to arguments.
  • Before going to war, governments should carefully consider the possible impact of anti-war protesters.
  • The Olympic Games first began in pre-Christian times, nearly 3000 years ago.
  • After completing university courses, some postgraduates find themselves unable to get a good job.
  • Very few people can maintain a good relationship with their ex-husband or ex-wife

Here are some explanations of common prefixes:

Prefix Meaning Example word
Mis- badly or incorrectly Miscommunication
Anti- Opposite, opposed to, against anti-war
Pre- Before pre-Christian
Post- After postgraduates
Ex A state which is no longer true ex-husband
inter- between/among interdepartmental
micro- too small to see with the naked eye microwave
pseudo- false, not true, a pretence pseudoscience
psycho- connected to the mind psychological
quasi- partly, in part quasi-success
eco- connected with the environment ecological
narco- connected with numbness narcotic

 Now try this complete example exercise to practice your skills!


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