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IELTS Reading Tutorial 4 | Global Reading Skills


What are global reading skills and how important are they for IELTS?

IELTS Academic Reading passages are long and reflect the type of reading you have to do on a course of academic study. You have to formulate a global or general impression about each passage, summarizing its content and general structure.

How are these skills tested?

Global multiple choice IELTS Reading questions check your level of comprehension about the purpose or idea of an entire text. IELTS Reading paragraph headings questions check how much you understand about the main theme or ideas of each individual paragraph.


Paraphrasing the main ideas

Texts are divided into paragraphs but these may have overlapping themes. Also, some paragraphs are longer than others, some are more important to the main message and some contain more detail / support.

Global reading question

Often a series of IELTS Reading multiple choice questions will finish with a global reading question. This type of question tests your understanding of the main idea of the complete passage by prompting you about the purpose of the writer / a suitable title / the main idea.

The passage sometimes does not appear with a title or subheading, if there is a global multiple choice question.

Choosing headings for paragraphs

Some passages have an obvious theme in each of the paragraphs. IELTS Reading questions test your comprehension by getting you to match paragraphs with suitable headings presented in a list.

The possible headings are normally listed just before the passage so you have an opportunity to read through each heading before reading the IELTS reading passage.

How to approach the task

  • Read through the list of headings to familiarize yourself with them
  • Use about ten minutes for reading the passage
  • Underline what you believe to be the main ideas and also important key words
  • Read each paragraph again and try to choose the heading that is most suitable for the each paragraph
  • If you think that there are two possible headlines which are suitable, make a note of both
  • Review both of them and the paragraph again, later

Repeat the same process with all the paragraphs until you have matched the most suitable heading with each paragraph

IELTS Reading Tip

There are always some extra headings that you do not need to use. There is sometimes an example answer. Do not reuse the heading used in the example answer by mistake.

Each IELTS Reading passage always has more than just one type of IELTS Reading question. Questions which are themed, for example, paragraph headings, can help you discover the answers for other IELTS Reading questions faster because they can help you understand the structure of a passage - just like a map.

Sentence completion

In this type of IELTS Reading question, some ideas taken from the text are presented in short sentences with gaps to be filled. Similar to other completion tasks, you have take care reading the instructions and pay close attention to how many words are permitted in each answer. The answers you will need are in the same sequence as they come in the passage.

How to approach the task

  • First, look for the section of the passage containing the idea
  • Then you can work out which words are missing
  • Finding other information is then easier
  • Be careful with the grammar in the sentence; check that it is correct after writing the answer

In all the completion tasks you can lose marks easily because of writing more / less than the number of words stated in the instructions, making an error when copying words from the text, or simply choosing the incorrect information.


IELTS Reading Tip

IELTS questions are written using different words and phrases from those used in the passage. This is known as paraphrasing.


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