IELTS Reading Essentials: How to apply keyword technique in IELTS Reading tests

Keyword technique can be considered as the most successful strategy to tackle ALL IELTS Reading questions. In fact, you can use it to match paragraphs with correct headings or to identify a statement is true, false, or not given. However, there is a fact that many people do not know this technique or use it in the wrong way. In this post, I will show you the way to apply this powerful tool to solve IELTS Reading questions effectively.


Keywords’ features and classification

In the post Ways to find keywords in Reading passage, I have shown you the fundamental features of keywords which are being:

  • Different from the passage’s title (topic’s heading)
  • Word/words that make the sentence containing it/(them) differentiated from other sentences
  • The group of words that we find easy to note in the reading passage

In terms of classification, I categorize keywords in reading passage into 2 types: Main and supporting keywords

Main keywords

Main keywords are words that help us find the paragraphs and sentences containing relevant information to answers the stated questions. Briefly, it assists us to know WHERE to find the answer. Main keywords are often main subjects of the statement in questions.

In particular, these keywords can be exactly the same or be synonyms/paraphrasing of each other.

  • Exactly the same keywords: special words that can find in both questions and passage. For example, they can be NAMES, DATES, YEARS, PLACES, NUMBERS, etc, which are extremely easy to find.
  • Synonyms or Paraphrasing keywords: words/phrases in questions that have similar meanings with ones in the passage and vice versa. For example, the word in question may be “Global” while one in passage is “International”. This kind of keywords is by far harder than the former and require a good vocabulary base to identify synonyms or paraphrasing.

Supporting keywords

Supporting keywords are words that help us find the correct answers. Specifically, supporting keywords can be main verbs, objects, or words like “some/only/all, etc.”. Similar to main keywords, supporting keywords also can be exactly the same or be synonyms/paraphrasing of each other.

Keyword technique application

Now, I will show you the step by step process to apply keyword technique to IELTS Reading test.

  • Step 1: Skimming passage topic heading (Title). This helps us to eliminate all words in the title from our keyword list. If the passage does not have title, please skip this step
  • Step 2: Skimming questions and underlining keywords
  • Step 3: If there are Matching heading questions, remember to skim these heading and underline keywords before skimming through the whole passage and underlining keywords.
  • Step 4: Re-read each question and scan the main keyword(s) onto the passage to find the location of the answer.
  • Step 5: Matching supporting keywords to find the correct answers. I use the term “matching” to indicate the matching in meaning not to match word-by-word.

Examples of this technique can be found in my previous posts such as Is it TRUE/FALSE or NOT GIVEN? A successful strategy to defeat these tricky questions

How to practice keyword technique 

Many people told me that it’s really hard for them to identify keyword while reading. Just remember the fundamental features of keyword. Another good way to practice keyword technique is using keyword table while you practice reading at home.

What is a keyword table?

The keyword table comprises 4 columns. The first is “Question Number” which state what question contains that keyword. The second is “Keyword in question” (1) while the third is “Keyword in the text” (2). In the former, you write the keyword you find in question while the corresponding keyword you found in the text will be written in the later. The last column called “Meaning” states the meaning of the keywords in both (1) and (2)

For example:

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.31.25 PM

   Table source: IELTSngocbach

How to work with keyword table?

You should use keyword table while you practice at home not in your exam. My suggestion is that after you complete the practice test and check with answers keys, you should do a comprehensive review of what you did with keyword table. Firstly, look at each question and fill in the keywords you find in the second column of the keyword table. Secondly, scan through the passage to find the corresponding keywords and fill them in the third column. Finally, you should write the meaning of them to make sure they indicate the same thing.

That’s the end of my post.

Thank you for reading my blog.

See you in my next posts







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