Improving skimming & scanning method in IELTS Reading to make them faster and more effective


Many students find IELTS Reading to be very harsh. The vocabulary is exceptionally difficult, not to mention the extensive variety of question types. Smart and steady preparation is the only way to score good in IELTS Reading.

Maintaining the speed is of grave importance to do well on the IELTS Reading paper. Sixty minutes is not enough to get through all the passages and answer 40 questions. The most logical way is to divide the 3 sections equally—spending 20 minutes per section, since each question carries same marks.The technique that is known to be best is Skimming and Scanning.


Instead of reading each passage carefully, it works much better for most people to “skim” the Reading passages. Skimming refers to looking only for the general or main ideas. You hone in on what is important to your purpose. The way is to cast your eyes over the words that carry actual information, nouns and verbs, which convey the overall message.

Skimming in IELTS Reading paper is vital because of the following reasons:

  • It helps you get an overview of the complete passage.
  • Makes heading questions easier to do.
  • Doing specific information in paragraph match.
  • Opting titles to texts.
  • Saves time

How to skim in IELTS reading section?

  • Read the title of the passage. It gives you the main idea of the text.
  • Read the initial couple of sentences of each paragraph. Often, this is where the central idea of each paragraph is.
  • Underline the key words. This will help you get a general idea of what is being talked about.
  • Ignore words that you do not know. Focusing on words that are unfamiliar to you will slow you down.
  • Try not to get caught up in the detail while you skim!

Practice is the key to find out what works best for YOU in the IELTS Reading Test. Adopt this skimming exercise to understand its benefits:

  • Select a passage and look at the main content words.
  • Underline the words, you think are important.
  • Jot down the words that you underlined.
  • Create a short summary using just these words.
  • Read the text carefully and see if your summary forms an understandable overview.


After you’ve thoroughly skimmed the text, you’re ready for the questions. You’ll have to vary your approach since each question type is slightly different. First, read the questions carefully and look for keywords. Then, scan the passage for answers. To test your vocabulary, IELTS adapt a different approach; the questions will not have exact words as the articles but paraphrases of information found in the article.Paraphrases will be synonyms or different forms of words found in the text or it could also be an entire sentence that put across the same meaning.

Scanning in IELTS Reading paper is vital because of the following reasons:

  • Finding keywords
  • Questions involving gap filler and sentence completion.
  • In YNNG and TFNG questions and tables and flowcharts.
  • Managing time.

Adopt this scanning exercise to understand its benefits:

  • Pick a text and chose some keyword from the question.
  • Looking for the keyword in each line.
  • Underline the word each time you see it.
  • Look for other keywords from the same question and try to find them in the text.
  • Look more carefully at this sentence to find the answer.

These skills are vital for time management. Spending some time on these exercises will help you to speed up and gain a better understanding of how the text works.

Originally posted 2018-03-21 17:10:03.


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