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Monday, January 27, 2020


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I absolutely agree: skimming and scanning is usually not a successful approach to IELTS. Firstly, it is often beyond the skills level of candidates; and secondly, IELTS tasks are not laid out with that in mind. It is often better to adopt an approach where one reads each text once carefully and once only.

So many students think that "practice makes perfect". It doesn't. Not when you are using a poor technique. Imagine learning to play the piano, and only using two fingers, or continually practicing with the right hand and never the left. There is no substitute for good technique.

Simply doing practice tests, looking up the answers, and saying to yourself "need more practice" - that is not a good preparation technique.

One important technique is to get into the habit of underlining the phrase that is the basis for each answer. Make sure you can point to a place and phrase in the text that gives the answer.

Another good technique is to find a study friend/buddy and do the same reading practice test together. Do not look at the answers until you both agree on every one. If you disagree, ask your friend to explain why and point to the relevant phrase in the text. This way you will learn to get the right answers, not the wrong ones.

Agree 100%, such a great suggestion.I am really tired of scanning/skimmimg. Ielts books advice this for 2-3 minutes,how can one comprehend a passage in this amount od time.I have been trying this method for a number of time, but not achieving much in the test. Thank you simon

I couldn’t agree with you more

Dear Simon,

I have tried to answer reading questions by using the 'skimming and scanning' technique, and I've resulted though it's a popular technique, it doesn't work for me! Surprisingly, the new two words 'finding' and 'understanding' gave me the impression that that's exactly what I'm looking for.
Thank you for not being afraid of change!


Thanks for your input John. Great advice!

It's good to see that more people are moving away from skimming and scanning.

Dear Simon,
Heaps of thanks for interesting pieces of advice on IELTS you share every day. What you have said here is something worthwhile as many candidates hate listening to a teacher talking about these techniques any more.

We use a kind of technique that works well in fact.I read a passage a couple of times without looking at any question,Then trying to guess which pieces of information or parts of text can be used as answers in the questions?In this way, Not only do I learn how to both analyze paragraphs deeply and understand them profoundly, but it helps me develop predictive skills as well.

In the next step, I do the test and find the answers, also try to spot the answers in the passage after completing the test. Of course, all these are for practice mode so as to improve my score. I avoid overtesting as you said before and just do a test under real exam conditions just once in a week to see my progress.

What do you think about such a method we practice with?


Practice makes perfect in an old version and these days it is said by professionals that the right practice makes perfect . For this, many sit for the IELTS a couple of times without achieving their target score.

Practice makes perfect in an old version and these days it is said by professionals that the right practice makes perfect . For this, many sit for the IELTS a couple of times without achieving their target score.

Hi Arash,

I'm glad you like my advice. Your way of practising seems good to me, so keep going!

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