IELTS Essentials: Ways to find keywords in Reading passage

Keyword is a powerful tool to tackle IELTS’s reading questions effectively and finding it is a core step in the strategy for a successful reading. However, how to identify keywords in a long reading passage may not be easy for some people and they try to highlight all the words that they think important to address questions in the IELTS test. And the result would be like this:


You may be one of them if you don’t acquire yourself the ability to recognize keywords.

If you really struggle with finding keywords, this post may help you deal with it successfully. Let’s start by learning some fundamental features of keywords.

You may define a word in one sentence as a keyword if it has at least one of the following characteristics:

Being different from the passage’s title (topic’s heading)

The words that appear in the passage’s title are not keywords because they will also appear in almost parts of the reading passage. Therefore, they will not bring you any benefits if you highlight them, but cause chaos in your reading paper. For example, if the passage title is “The history of the tortoise”, none of them may be keywords in the whole passage and in its questions.

Being word/(s) that make the sentence containing it/(them) differentiated from other sentences.

In the other words, that’s what appears only in a specific sentence, but not in the others. For example, in the following sentence “There is evidence that all modern turtles are descended from a terrestrial ancestor which lived before most of the dinosaurs”, the keyword I identified here is “terrestrial ancestor”.

Being the group of words that we find easy to note in the reading passage

For example, the names of people or places, time (day, year, month).

Now, I will give you some examples to practice.

Practice examples:

Reading passage’s title: CLASSIFYING SOCIETIES

Question type: True/False/Not given

1. There’s little economic difference between members of a clan.
2. The farmers of a tribe grow a wide range of plants.
3. One settlement is more important than any other settlements in a tribe.
4. A member’s status in chiefdom is determined by how much land he owns.

So let’s define your own keywords and I will give you mine.





Now, let’s compare yours with mine.

1. Economic difference
2. Farmers, plants
3. Settlement
4. Status, land

Are they similar? If not, don’t worry, just keep practicing my friend. Remember the purpose of identifying keywords is to facilitate your process of locating information in questions to one in passage to find the correct answers, so be careful when highlighting/underlining keywords.

If you have any questions, please leave your comment below.


Thank you for reading my blog.

See you in my next post 🙂



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4 Responses

  1. May 5, 2017

    […] you should continue your reading by quickly looking through all the questions and highlight all the keywords you […]

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    […] still use the keyword technique to find the correct words. To use this technique, you should ensure you have read the […]

  3. May 6, 2017

    […] still use the keyword technique to find the correct words. To use this technique, you should ensure you have read the […]

  4. May 15, 2017

    […] the post Ways to find keywords in Reading passage, I have shown you the fundamental features of keywords which are […]

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