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Learn General IELTS Reading Skills...

Knowing which general IELTS reading skills are tested should help you to score better on your general IELTS test.

How should we read?

While reading and understanding every word on the page was important when we began to read, your general IELTS reading skills don't require understanding every word.


In fact, you will lose precious time if you don't learn to make "educated guesses" at the meaning of unknown words.

Guessing the meaning of unknown words from context (logical inference)

Logical inference can be demonstrated in the following example– ‘Jenny went to the store to buy some oladfiasdfhj.' 'She'll be back in a few minutes.'

What could oladfiasdfhj be? (Answers could include milk, bread, cigarettes, meat etc). In other words, the item has to be something in the store that requires a short time to purchase. We can infer (guess) from the context what the object might be.

Non-necessary or superfluous words.

In the previous paragraph the words (in other words, from the context) are not necessary to aid understanding. Many times, unknown words may belong to this category of words in a sentence. Hence, we don't really need to know every word all the time. This is important to understand as speed (actually, lack of time) is the number one enemy when it comes to the IELTS exam.

In activities where speed is emphasised - like your general IELTS reading skills - it pays to start slowly.


When speed is emphasised, try some very simple scanning tasks (locate names or other nouns that occur in the text). This will help to build confidence. Once you can scan a text and find the names of places and people in just a few short seconds, it's time to move to a more challenging task.

Try locating simple synonyms (a word meaning ‘a building’ – ‘abode’ perhaps, or a word meaning ‘a manager’ – maybe ‘administrator’.) Gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise all the while paying special heed to time.

The skills mentioned above will definitely be tested so it pays to develop them well.

Main Idea Location

Learn howparagraphs are constructed as main ideas are often expressed in a topic sentence. Topic sentences usually come at the beginning of a paragraph, although they can occur at the end.

  • Look for explanations or examples that expand on -- or clarify -- the main idea

Often times such explanations use hyphens (-) or (italics) or other punctuation to make them easy to identify.

Special Interest Vocabulary

Some question types will likely require you to know how to differentiate and compare two similar or different ideas. Verbsused in quoting are useful for this type of text; you should know the difference between words such as ‘stated’, ‘claimed’, ‘denied’, ‘admitted’, ‘implied’ etc. You should also recognise the language of comparison such as 'product x is nowhere near as reliable/useful/expensive etc. as product y, while it can't be denied that product y is everything product x is not.

To learn more about using general ielts reading skills, click on the preceding link. You'll return to the previous page.