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One type of question you’ll get in the IELTS Reading test is identifying information and matching information to the paragraphs that contain that information. This type of question checks your scanning skills and comprehension when you read more intensely to find the information. Here is a sample passage (“The Motor Car”) and questions from ielts.org.
You will be using these reading strategies: SKIM for general understanding, SCAN for locating target words, and READING INTENSELY to get a precise understanding in order to choose the right answer.
Let’s go through the questions given in this sample reading (see the full passage here):
I’ve read through the questions (after clearly understanding the directions) and underlined key words to SCAN for in the reading passage.
Q #14 – I scan for words or phrases that indicate a comparison of the past and present. I look for words that refer to the past ( especially years, prepositions for time, etc.verbs in past tense). Here is what I find:
Now that I have located the key words “until a hundred years ago”, I read this paragraph more carefully to make sure that this is the correct paragraph that contains a comparison of past and present transport methods. I see that it talks about travelling by horse in the past, then about motor vehicles we use now, and how we cannot revert to (go back to) using horse-drawn wagons. I can confidently choose Paragraph C for the answer to question 14.
#15 – I have underlined “driving habits” and “road problems”. These are the words I scan for, or any synonyms or phrases relating to habits with driving and problems. Here is what I find:
I straight away see “problem” (circled in yellow) and a couple of lines down “how they are driven” (also circled in yellow) which can refer to driving habits. After scanning, I read paragraph F carefully to make sure that it mentions how driving habits contribute to road problems. Look at what I underlined in the paragraph above. People’s driving habits, such as driving aggressively and buying larger cars than they need, cause high fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, which are part of causing the pollution problem. (Important vocabulary to know or be able to guess: exhaust emissions). Therefore, for question 15 I choose the answer Paragraph F.
#16 – Look above at the key words I underlined, which is merits. Other synonyms I think of are “benefits”, “advantages”, “pros”. So I look for these type of words or phrases with similar meaning. Here is what I find:
Although the beginning of the paragraph talks about the disadvantages of cars – it’s costly, I noticed the “Yet” which indicates that what is next will be the opposite of a disadvantage. I see the words “easily surpass trains” which shows something positive about cars in comparison to trains. I read more closely (the underlined part) and see that this paragraph mentions that the “merits” or positive aspects of cars is that they are flexible and convenient. Therefore I choose Paragraph E for question 16.
#17 – I underlined “prediction” and “future solutions”. So I’ll scan for words similar in meaning or future verb tenses, especially when it’s reflected in the writer’s point of view. Here is what I find:
What I’ve underlined in yellow are the words I scanned for:
- “likely scenario” is a phrase that reflects what one is guessing or expecting to happen.
- “might be used to ensure that…” indicates probability of what will happen, hence it shows a prediction
- “these are solutions” - this shows that the previous statements were about solutions
Since I’ve found words and phrases linked to the key words I’m targeting, I now read more closely. The sentences underlined in green show details of the possible solutions the writer is predicting. Therefore, I choose paragraph H for question 17.
#18. I underlined “increasing use”. I SCAN for words or phrases that have similar meanings to this, or numbers, which are easy to scan for. Here is what I find:
This paragraph not only has numbers, but the phrases “the number is rising” and “is growing too” mean “increasing use of vehicle use. Reading more intensely, I find the numbers that show how much vehicle use has increased – underlined in green. Therefore, I choose Paragraph A for question 18.
#19. I underlined “impact” and “city development”. So I SCAN for words or phrases similar in meaning. Here is what I find:
This one isn’t as straight-forward, but as you can see with the underlined parts, “cities are still designed…” , “land is assigned to car use…” and “urban sprawl”, these phrases refer to how cities are developed and designed. “Effects” (also underlined in yellow) is similar to “impact”. Now I read more intensely and see that this paragraph, I can see that cars have had an effect or impact on how cities develop or are designed. Therefore, I can choose Paragraph D for Question 19.
For strategies on other question types for IELTS Reading see:
Yes/No/Not Given or True/False/Not Given
Another post on Yes/No/Not Given or True/False/Not Given
Matching headings and paragraphs
General Strategies for IELTS Reading