IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

This post deals with two of the most important and valuable skills of IELTS Reading; Skimming and Scanning. The sample passage is taken from Cambridge IELTS Series 13 Test 2 Reading Passage 1 entitled ‘Bringing Cinnamon to Europe’. The questions are originally made by the author. Here, you’ll find discussion, strategies and examples to practice and apply these two reading skills effectively in your IELTS and hopefully, all the Reading sections of any English Language Test.

 

If you have ever appeared in the IELTS test, or any English Language test of the same kind, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, SAT, whatever it is, you have faced Reading test there and probably you have been asked by others about the Reading Skills needed there. And which two Reading Skills have you suggested to others? SKIMMING and SCANNING, right? But most often, students and candidates get confused on understanding these skills because of their lack of knowledge and confusion. If you are a beginner in IELTS Test, this lesson can help you a lot to understand and practice Skimming and Scanning easily and successfully.

All the questions that have been used in this lesson are original and designed by the author of this blog.

But first let’s take a look at the sample text from where we’re going to practice the skills:

IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

This sample passage has 6 paragraphs and about 900 words. It’s taken from Cambridge IELTS Series

Let’s learn the difference between reading skills scanning and skimming first. Take a very careful look at the following picture that differentiates Skimming from Scanning.

IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

SKIMMING:

Skimming means the method of speed-reading only main ideas within a passage to acquire an overall impression of the content of a reading text. Here, you’re looking for the context, gist, overview or summary of the text. You are not looking for anything specific.

For some questions in the IELTS test and other English Language exams, like Matching Headings, Choosing a title for the passage and, in some cases, Identifying information, candidates need to do skimming. Otherwise, they’ll lose both valuable time and marks.

There are 2/3 ways how you can do skimming. Here’s the one way I feel the best for everyone to practice:

  1. Read the title and think about it for a moment.
  2. Read the introduction or the first paragraph. If it is too long, read the first and last few sentences.
  3. Mark and read the first sentence of every other paragraph.
  4. Mark and read any headings and sub-headings.
  5. Notice any pictures, charts, or graphs. If you find one or two, mark them.
  6. Notice any italicized or boldface words or phrases and mark them.
  7. Read the last paragraph. It often gives a summary of the whole text.
  8. Don’t take more than 1 minute for every 100 words (as a beginner) for skimming. When you think you’ve improved enough, raise your level of speed-reading and reduce the time to 30 seconds. Trust me, you can do this! You need practice and that’s all.

We’ll use a forest model for this practice:

Try to think the way I’m thinking: This is skimming.

You are a traveler and different locations like rivers, forests, hills and mountains attract you all the time. You’ve found an invitation to make a journey from your hometown to a remote part in your country through a large forest. Your task is simple; just present a small report on the forest including most significant things and matters.

Now, let’s consider the above given sample passage (Bringing cinnamon to Europe) as a forest. You need to walk through the forest using the road. Don’t deviate from the road; enjoy the both sides of the road but continue walking and try to answer the following questions from your hiking experience.

Question type: List of Headings

  1. Paragraph A
  2. Paragraph B
  3. Paragraph C
  4. Paragraph D
  5. Paragraph E
  6. Paragraph F

List of Headlines:

  1. The first arrival of the Europeans to Ceylon
  2. The fall of quality in cinnamon and failure of monopoly game
  3. The Dutch overthrew the English
  4. The early route of cinnamon trade
  5. The Dutch plot to overthrow the Portuguese
  6. Change in harvesting practice
  7. What is cinnamon and how they were used?
  8. The toxic elements in cinnamon

Let’s try to answer the questions one by one. Remember, you will get around 1 minute and 10 seconds for every IELTS Reading questions (40 questions in 60 minutes), not more than that.

OK? Now, start reading the first paragraph (from the picture of the passage above) which will direct you to your answer for the first question.

Read the first sentence carefully and then just brush your eyes over the rest of the paragraph. Your time is 1 minute.

Did you get the main idea? Yes, the paragraph gives in introduction to cinnamon and its usage in early times.

So, what should be the Headings for Paragraph no. 1? Yes, you are right; it has to be:

  1. What is cinnamon and how they were used?

So, the answer for Question no. 1 is g.

Here’s a picture which can help you get the idea of skimming better and find the answers easily.

Your road is marked with coloured dots.

IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

Keep practicing SKIMMING from other sources as well. Any good source will do the magic for you. I’m telling you again, if you do this practice regularly, finding answers for different IELTS questions types will become easier for you.

SCANNING:

Scanning is also speed-reading but not as fast as Skimming. Scanning is done to find specific information like names, dates, numbers or any particular information of such kind.

For most questions in IELTS Reading Test, such as Fill in the blanks, Summary completion, Sentence completion, Matching information, Matching references, Diagram/ Note completion, candidates need this skill.

Here’s how you can practice scanning:

  1. In the questions, read the instruction carefully and locate the keywords and information type you are looking for, such as a number, a name, a specific event and mark them.
  2. Start reading the particular paragraph that may have the information. Anticipate where the answer can be. For example, if the question asks you to find a year of an event, you need to look for some numbers.
  3. If there are some supporting aids such as headings, take help from those to locate your answer more accurately.
  4. Notice any italicized or boldface words or phrases and mark them. It often directs you to the answer.
  5. Read the last paragraph. It often gives a summary of the whole text.
  6. Don’t take more than 2 minutes for every 100 words (as a beginner) for scanning. When you think you’ve improved enough, raise your level of speed-reading and reduce the time to 1 minute/45 seconds. Trust me, you can do this! You need practice and that’s all.

We’ll use a forest model for this practice:

Try to think the way I’m thinking: This is scanning.

You are a hunter and different locations like rivers, forests, hills and mountains attract you all the time. You’ve found an invitation of a hunting game arranged in a forest near your hometown. Your task is simple; just some small or big animals.

Now, let’s consider the above given sample passage (Bringing cinnamon to Europe) as a forest. You need to walk through the forest very carefully. You can deviate from the road; there’s no problem there. Let’s find treks of animals and hunt them accordingly.

Question type: Short answer questions

Answer the following questions using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS.

  1. What was cinnamon added to in the biblical times?
  2. In which place cinnamon was utilized for its sweet fragrance in funerals?
  3. Which documented health problem could cinnamon treat?
  4. Where was Arab merchants’ last stop for the cinnamon trade?

Let’s try to answer the questions one by one. Remember again, you will get around 1 minute and 10 seconds for every IELTS Reading questions (40 questions in 60 minutes), not more than that.

You need to locate the KEYWORDS for question no. 7 first.

  1. What was cinnamon added to in the biblical times?

The keywords are added to and biblical times. So, you must locate the paragraph where you find these keywords. Just brush your eyes quickly over the first few paragraphs. You’ll see the mention of biblical times and the Bible in lines 2-3 of paragraph no. 1. So, you should read the lines carefully. Let’s read them together:

“ . .. It was known in biblical times, and is mentioned in several books of the Bible, both as an ingredient that was mixed with oils for anointing people’s bodies.”

Here, we can see a phrase mixed with. This is synonymous to the phrase added to.

Did you get the answer? Yes, the sentence gives us the answer which is ‘oils’.

So, the answer for Question no. 7 is oils.

Here’s a picture which can help you get the idea of scanning better and find the answers easily.

IELTS Reading Skills: Skimming & Scanning; with detailed explanations, discussion, pictures, strategies and example practices

Keep practicing SCANNING from all other sources too. Any good source will help you. Only practicing over and over again will result in SUCCESS.

I hope this lesson has helped you in understanding the skills, Skimming and Scanning, and now you can do the practice on your own. If you still face problem with practicing, you can contact me at ieltsdeal@gmail.com.

Answers for the List of Headings questions (Skimming):

  1. g
  2. d
  3. a
  4. e
  5. f
  6. b

Answers for Short-answer questions (Scanning):

  1. oils
  2. ancient Rome
  3. indigestion
  4. Alexandria 

Click here to learn about IELTS Reading Skills: How to guess/predict meanings of unknown words

Want some more and detailed practice on Skimming and Scanning? Click on the links and get the following books now!
Skimming and Scanning by Edward Fry
Skimming and Scanning Techniques by Barbara N. Sherman

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This is best explained skimming and scanning you’ll find online, Thanks admin for sharing. A really helpful IELTS website.

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