IELTS Reading Techniques

When it comes to IELTS Reading, your approach to the texts is important. Certain IELTS Reading techniques can really help you get that target score. Read on to learn more about them.

Skimming and Scanning: Your 2 Go-To IELTS Reading Techniques

Two of the most valuable approaches to an IELTS passage are skimming and scanning.

Skimming involves quickly looking through an entire passage from beginning to end. This IELTS Reading technique helps you get a general sense of the information in the passage. To skim a passage in IELTS reading, read the first sentence or two of each paragraph — this is where the main idea of each paragraph is. Then glance through the rest of each paragraph, looking for keywords that related to the opening sentences. Those keywords will give you an idea of the supporting details for each main idea.

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As an IELTS Reading technique, skimming gives you the broad context of the questions that follow the passage. However, once you get to the questions, you’ll still need to know specific details that you may not have found when you skimmed. This is where scanning comes in. To scan an IELTS reading passage, you look through the passage for specific information related to a question.

This valuable IELTS reading technique requires good knowledge of English vocabulary — you need to be able to quickly and easily recognize words that are related. If the question asks about, say, “conclusions made by scientists,” the related words in the text might be “results of the experiment.” As you scan, you need to understand the connection between word pairs like “scientists” and “experiment,” and “conclusions” and “results.”

To Read the Passage First or not to Read the Passage First? Two Possible IELTS Reading Techniques

You’ve probably heard some conflicting advice on whether you should look at the IELTS Reading passage first or go straight to the questions. So which is it?

This really depends a lot on your learning style. The “passage-first” technique works well for many test-takers, while plenty of other test-takers are more comfortable with “questions-first.”

In my own experience as an IELTS tutor, I’ve found most students do best with one of two techniques. You can skim the passage first and then scan for details as you go through the questions; this is basically the skim-scan approach I described above. Other students prefer to read the questions first and check the passage for each question; this technique is all scanning and no skimming.

I recommend trying both of those two techniques to see which one works best for you. The one IELTS Reading technique you should not use is fully reading the whole passage right away. This takes up a  lot of time and is not really necessary. Not every single detail form the passage will appear in the questions.

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