Many students find the IELTS Reading comprehension Test very challenging. But if proper reading strategies of skimming and scanning are adopted, this challenge can be overcome.

Skimming is a tool used to look only for the general or main ideas. The goal of skimming is to get a bird’s-eye view of the given text. An effective way to skim is to read the first and last sentence only of the paragraph to locate the main ideas of that paragraph. Skimming the text will thus help you identify the topic.

Unlike skimming, scanning is used to look for a specific fact or information by looking for related words/phrases. Scanning is helpful in locating where the answer is in the texts.

Let us now look at how to find keywords in reading.

How to Identify Keywords in IELTS Reading?

An important part of skimming the passage is underlining keywords. While you are reading the passage, you can identify important keywords in the paragraphs that will also help you to understand the given information better. Some keywords that can be underlined are names, dates locations, facts, figures etc.

Also Read: What are the Smart Keywords in IELTS? How to Find them in IELTS Reading?

What are the Smart Keywords in IELTS? Understand with Example

Names (Names of scientists, people etc. involved in the story)

Locations (Town, city, country etc.)

Years or dates (1978, 12th Oct 1982 etc.)

Figures (1.2 million, 20000 etc.)

You may mark any word or phrase which is capitalized e.g. titles of books, event names etc.

The reason behind highlighting these keywords is finding easy reference from the passage. If you have a question referring to the year 1978, it would be easy for you to locate it in the passage if you had already underlined it while reading the passage. Otherwise, you would need to read the whole passage to find where 1978 is mentioned and hence, it would consume your time.

How to Find the Right Keywords in Reading?

In the process of scanning i.e. locating the answer of the question, you will first need to read the question carefully to find important keywords you can mark and at the same time, to understand the meaning of the question.

Keywords you underline are usually nouns, a group of nouns, verbs etc. except articles (a, an, the), prepositions (for, in, at etc.) and others.

An extremely important strategy of underlining keywords is to identify the focus of the question, especially in MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions). Focus or stem of the question is a word in the question that will help you to choose the right option. For example, focus or stem is highlighted in the following question:

Which of the following is most at fault for the Titanic disaster?

  1. The ship
  2. Captain and crew
  3. Titanic’s owners and builders
  4. Standard operating procedure

Sometimes, your keywords are synonyms or similar words, not the exact keyword as given in the passage and hence, you can try to understand its meaning to relate it well with the right paragraph. However, the nearby words and paraphrasing skill will help you understand the meaning of the question.

Let’s take an example of how to find keywords in the question and similar keywords in the reading passage.

Also Read: How to Find the Right Keywords in Reading Comprehension?

Sample Question

So this is an example question which we have given that can help you understand better about finding similar keywords.

Recommendations about __________________ are given to the wife-to-be.

Passage statement:

Her guests often tease the bride about her husband and give her advice about married life.

IELTS Reading Keyword Table

Keywords in Question Similar Keywords in the paragraph
Recommendations Advice
About About
Are Given Give
Wife-to-be Bride

Answer- Married Life

Also Read: How Can I Improve My Vocabulary and Reading Score in the IELTS?

Explanation

If you read the question, you can identify keywords as “wife-to-be”, “recommendations” and the word near the blank, “about”.

Thus, it may so happen that keywords of question do not match with that in the passage. In this case, you may need to paraphrase them or find out their meanings. Here, in the passage, “bride” is the word used in place of “wife-to-be” and “advice” in place of “recommendations”.

Also, it is to be noted that “is given” in question is paraphrased grammatically for “give” in the passage statement.

Another important thing to be noticed is that “about” is exactly the same word nearby the blank in the question as you can find in the passage statement.

Note

Always remember that matching keywords would help you locate the paragraph and its statements for reference but in the end, it’s all about understanding the question without which answers go wrong. Hence, you should instead try matching the information or the meaning.

Practice Questions

We have listed a few practice questions that can help you understand about this topic easily. So, you can go across the 5 questions we have listed below and try answering them for practice.

Question 1

Read the following short passages and questions to find out keywords. Fill the keywords in the table given below:

A super-hard metal has been made in the laboratory by melting together titanium and gold. The alloy is the hardest known metallic substance compatible with living tissues, say US physicists. The material is four times harder than pure titanium and has applications in making longer-lasting medical implants, they say.

The hardest substance discovered in the laboratory is formed by combining titanium and gold after they are _____

IELTS reading keywords table-

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph

Also Read: How to Do MCQs in IELTS Listening? Mastering the IELTS Listening Strategy

Question 2

Quakes are the ever-present danger for those who live along with the Apennine mountain range in Italy. Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than, the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday.

Which part of Italy is always under the threat of being affected by quakes?

IELTS reading keywords table-

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph

Question 3

But look closer at the specifics of any quake and the details are much more complicated. The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up. Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or “pull-apart”, along the Apennines which works at a rate of 3mm per year. Add in movement in the Adriatic where the crust is rotating in an anti-clockwise direction, and you have a fiendishly complex picture. Italy is literally being pushed and pulled every which way.

When the particulars of an earthquake are studied deeply, it is found that it is very _________

IELTS reading keywords table-

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph

Question 4

We all recall the L’Aquila (Magnitude 6.3) event of 2009 in which 295 died. But go much further back to Avezzano (Magnitude 6.9-7.0) in 1915, which claimed 30,000 lives; and to 1703 when a trio of Magnitude 6 quakes killed at least 10,000 people. Thankfully, we tend not to see deaths on those scales anymore, and that is because of more robust building, better preparation and more coordinated emergency responses after the fact.

Which one of the following is NOT the reason why deaths are rare with quakes of magnitude between 6 and 7?

Good planning and preparation

Quakes are not seen anymore

Effective construction of buildings

Handling emergency situation well

IELTS reading keywords table-

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph

Also Read: MCQ Type of Questions in IELTS Reading Exam: Here’s How to do It

Question 5

But look closer at the specifics of any quake and the details are much more complicated. The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up. Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or “pull-apart”, along the Apennines which works at a rate of 3mm per year. Add in movement in the Adriatic where the crust is rotating in an anti-clockwise direction, and you have a fiendishly complex picture. Italy is literally being pushed and pulled every which way.

A major effect can be observed in the western region of Italy where a (i)_________is located. It is found to be gradually broadening up leading to the situation of  (ii)_________ at the rate of (iii)_____per year.

IELTS reading keywords table-

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph

Answers

The answers to all the 5 questions we have listed above are lined up below which you can match with your answers to find how good you are with the topic.

Question 1 Answer

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph
Hardest substance Super-hard metal
Discovered in the laboratory Made in the laboratory
Combination Together
Answer- Melted

Question 2 Answer

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph
Of Italy Of Italy
Always Ever-present
Threat Danger
Answer: Apennine Mountain Range

Question 3 Answer

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph
Particulars of an earthquake Specifics of any quake
Studied deeply Look closer
Much more Very
Answer: Complicated

Question 4 Answer

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the paragraph
The reason why That is because of
Deaths are rare Not to see deaths anymore
Good planning and preparation Better preparation
Effective construction of the building More robust building
Handling emergency situation well More coordinated emergency responses
Answer: B

Question 5 Answer

Keywords in question Similar keywords in the passage
Is located Lies
The western region of Italy West of Italy
Gradually broadening up Slowly opening-up
Leading to Contributing to
At the rate of At a rate of
ANSWERS:

i. Tyrrhenian Basin/Sea

ii. Extension/pull-apart

iii. 3 mm

Also Read: What should I Prioritize: Learning Vocabulary or Collocations for IELTS Preparation?

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article on how to identify keywords in reading? will surely help you to identify keywords in reading. We are sure if you practice reading with the techniques of skimming and scanning as discussed above, it will help you score better in your IELTS Reading Test. For even better preparation, you can opt for the best online IELTS preparation centre, IELTS Ninja.

About the Author

Shilpa

Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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