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IELTS Reading Tutorial 1 : Paragraph Themes And Key Words


IELTS Reading | subtitles & headings | headings for paragraphs | keywords

In the IELTS Reading test you need to have reading strategies to help you understand a text quickly. The first step is to predict what the text will be about by reading the title and subheading. You can form a quick overview of the IELTS Reading text by asking yourself certain questions as you read. You need to pay attention to paragraph themes and key words. Some critical questions to help orientate yourself to the text are:
  • What is the introduction / first paragraph about?
  • Why was the text written?
  • Who was it written for?

Almost all articles you read in journals,magazines and newspapers have a title. Many also have a subheading.


Look at the title of the article and the subheading, and then try to answer these questions:
  • a) What do you think the article is about (What is the general topic)?
  • b) Who do you think would be interested in reading such an article?
  • c) What would you expect to read in the first paragraph?


Read the first paragraph and answer the following questions:


  • a) What is the writer’s purpose in this first paragraph?
  • b) Which sentence summarises best the main idea in the paragraph?
Sometimes if a passage in the IELTS Reading test does not have a title or a subheading, it is because one of the questions will be to test your understanding of the theme of the whole passage or the reason why the author wrote the passage.

Ask yourself these questions when you first read a text, as part of your IELTS reading strategies for the IELTS Reading test.


Using paragraphs and main ideas

As you read through each paragraph of an IELTS Reading passage, you gradually build on your understanding of what the writer is trying to say.

Try to identify the main idea in each paragraph as you read it. Underlining the main idea in each paragraph will help guide you to the correct information you need to find.

Finding information in paragraphs

Some IELTS Reading questions require you to identify which paragraph talks about certain information. It is a good idea to begin reading the paragraphs in order to identify if they contain the information as given in the question statements. Note how the statements begin and note the key words.

Dealing with unfamiliar words in IELTS Reading passages

You are unlikely to understand all the words in the IELTS Reading passages, but often you can work out the meaning of difficult or unknown vocabulary.
  • - Think about what part of speech it is: is it a verb, an adjective, a noun etc.? This might help you to understand the idea of the sentence.
  • - Look at the word formation, how the word is formed. Sometimes it is possible to guess the meaning of unknown vocabulary. For example, if you see the word 'intranet' but are not sure of the exact meaning, but you know what the internet is, and you understand the meaning of the word 'introvert', then you could maybe guess that 'intranet' is some kind of 'internal' internet.
  • - Read the word in context. You should examine the text immediately before and after the word you are not sure about for context clues.

It is no essential to fully understand all the vocabulary in the IELS Reading passages, but it is important to recognize which words are important because the give key information.

Choosing headings for paragraphs

Read the title and subheading of the passage. Identify and underline the sentence which contains the main idea(s) in each paragraph. Make sure you match ideas and not words. You may find words from the list of headings in the passage but they may be in a different paragraph from the one which is the correct answer.

Good luck with your IELTS Reading test!

  • IELTS Reading Tutorial 2 : specific meaning & general understanding

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