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Skimming is when you quickly read for just the main

idea of a text, without thinking about specific details.

Know what you want

Before you start skimming, ask yourself what you want to get from the book or article under your nose. Think of two or three terms that describe what you want to know, and as you skim, keep an eye out for those two or three terms. Aimlessly skimming with no particular purpose can cause drowsiness, and eventually, sleep.

Step - 2
Read vertically as well as horizontally

When skimming, you move your eyes vertically as much as you move your eyes horizontally. In other words, you move your eyes down the page as much as you move them from side to side. Skimming is a bit like running down stairs. Yes, you should take one step at a time, and running down stairs is reckless, but you also get there faster by running.

Step - 3
Think like the author

Every article, book, and Web page is written to make a point of some kind, and if you can detect the authors strategies for making his point, you can separate the important from the unimportant material in the course of your reading. You can focus on the original, meaningful material and skip over the material that just supports the authors argument without advancing it. Detecting the authors strategies requires you to put yourself in his place. Besides noticing the material on the page, notice how he presents the material. See whether you can recognize how the author places background material, secondary arguments, tangential information, and just plain frippery.

Step - 4
Preread before you start skimming

Examine an article before you read it. By prereading an article before you skim, you can pinpoint the parts of the article that require your undivided attention and the parts that you can skip.

Step - 5
Try to detect the main idea in the introductory

paragraphs The introductory paragraphs usually express the main idea, argument, or goal of an article or chapter. Read these paragraphs closely. They tell you what the authors aim is, which can help you decide early on whether the article or chapter is worth reading in detail.

Step - 6
Read the first sentence in each paragraph

The introductory sentence of each paragraph usually describes what follows in the paragraph. When you skim, read the first sentence in each paragraph and then decide whether the rest of the paragraph deserves a read. If it doesnt, move on.

Step - 7
Dont necessarily read complete sentences

When skimming, you dont even have to read complete sentences. If the start of a sentence holds no promise of the sentence giving you the information you want, skip to the next sentence. Read the start of sentences with an eye to whether they will yield useful information, and read them all the way through only if they appear to be useful at first glance. DONT WORRY ABOUT THE WORDS YOU DONT UNDERSTAND.

Step - 8
Skip examples and proofs

Authors often present examples to prove a point, but if you believe the point doesnt need proving, you can skip the examples.


Butterflies are one of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on earth. Their attractive, brilliant colors catch interest immediately. They have wings of varying shapes and sizes, and some even appear to have "eyes" on them! Some butterflies are cleverly camouflaged with colours that assist them in blending with the plant life in their environments. The delicate physical structure of the butterfly (along with hair-like legs and antennae) adds to its gentle beauty. Some of these curious insects vary distinctly in size, with the largest-known wing span at four inches, and the smallest measured from wing tip to tip at one-half inch. Without these glorious, artful creations darting about in the world, our lives would indeed be much more drab and boring.

Scanning is when you read to find specific pieces of

information, such as names, dates and facts.

Very Important
Why mistakes are made
Scanning tells you where to find the answer, not

what the answer is The first step is to understand that scanning is a limited skill in IELTS: it tells you where you can find the answer, it does not tell you what the answer is. To find the answer, you need a separate skill.

you can scan the text for key words in the question,

but before you answer you must read the whole question for meaning dont stop when you have simply word matched one word, here A particular word scanning is just one step in the process: it tells you are in the right place, it doesnt necessarily tell you what the answer is scanning is just one step in the process: it tells you are in the right place, it doesnt necessarily tell you what the answer is

All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for agriculture is the largest single cause of deforestation; chemical fertilisers and pesticides may contaminate water supplies; more intensive farming and the abandonment of fallow periods tend to exacerbate soil erosion; and the spread of monoculture and use of highyielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of food plants which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently embarked upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow or forest. Topsoil in India and China is vanishing much faster than in America. You have 20 seconds Time up

Research completed in 1982 found that in the United States soil erosion A reduced the productivity of farmland by 20 per cent. B was almost as severe as in India and China. C was causing significant damage to 20 per cent of farmland. D could be reduced by converting cultivated land to meadow or forest.

Government policies have frequently compounded the environmental damage that farming can cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilisers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 per cent. The quantity of pesticides applied has risen too: by 69 per cent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, for example, with a rise of 115 per cent in the frequency of application in the three years from 1981.
You have 20 seconds Time up

By the mid-1980s, farmers in Denmark A used 50 per cent less fertiliser than Dutch farmers. B used twice as much fertiliser as they had in 1960. C applied fertiliser much more frequently than in 1960. D more than doubled the amount of pesticide they used in just 3 years.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s some efforts were made to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which scrapped most farm support in 1984. A study of the environmental effects, conducted in 1993, found that the end of fertiliser subsidies had been followed by a fall in fertiliser use (a fall compounded by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut farm incomes). The removal of subsidies also stopped land-clearing and over-stocking, which in the past had been the principal causes of erosion. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.
You have 20 seconds Time up

Which one of the following increased in New Zealand after 1984? A farm incomes B use of fertiliser C over-stocking D farm diversification

You look at a newspaper to see if theres a film on TV

tonight. You look at a train timetable to see when the next train is due. You need to decide if a long article will be useful for some research you are doing. You have a meeting in ten minutes, and you havent read the report you are going to discuss.

Predicting Content
Before you read a text in the IELTS exam, it is a good idea to predict what you are going to read. One way is to use the information in the title ( or main heading ), the summary paragraph and any subheadings.

After looking at the article which do you think best describes the text??

1) Information about universities, promoting each institution as a good place to study. 2) A holiday brochure, selling the UK as a destination for a quick break. 3) A magazine article, giving advice on living and studying abroad in different English-speaking countries.