Top Tips for IELTS

A skimming exercise with true false not given practice

This lesson looks at skimming – the ability to read a text quickly and understand what the general meaning is. I suggest one way to practise your skimming skills. It is a good place to start if you find you can’t read texts quickly enough and don’t like skimming and so only scan for “key words” in the text. It may help that the practice idea is really half scanning and half skimming. After a skimming exercise, there is a sample reading text with 3 true/false/not given questions.

 

 Don’t read the whole text, read bits of the text

Forget details. Concentrate on main ideas

The idea is that what you need to read when you skim are the important/general bits of the text. You don’t want to waste time on details – you can do that later. All you have to do is decide what the important parts of the text are. Want to know what the important bits are? Here is my suggestion:

  1. the first sentence in every paragraph is normally important and gives the main idea of the paragraph
  2. the first few words in each paragraph normally tell you what that sentence is about
If you do this, you should get the general idea. It’s not perfect, but it can be a good place to start.

Try an exercise

Read these bits of sentences.

  1. How long does it take you?
  2. Do you generally understand the paragraph? What’s it about?
Read

There are different ways in which volcanoes are classified.

Perhaps the most common and certainly the one used by non-specialists

This classification is problematical

Typically, a volcano is said to be extinct

The difficulty with this is that man has been on the planet

This can be exemplified

When Vesuvius did erupt,

An assumption had been made

Indeed, this is by no means an isolated example

The one difference being that the castle is still with us

How long did it take?

That was a quarter of a full IELTS reading. If you did it in 30 seconds, that means you can read a whole IELTS reading in 2 minutes. But did you understand anything?

What was it about?

Note/underline key words/phrases

No details needed here. But it is really important you note/underline a few details so you remember them later and also help you understand what you are reading. These are the words/ideas I would choose and why.

volcanoes (perhaps but maybe it’s all about volcanoes)

classification by non-specialists  (repeated from the first sentence so probably important)

problematical/difficult  (these words mean the same thing really- repeated ideas are normally important ideas)

example/Vesuvius  (I see example and I think this is a detail not a main idea) (I see a proper name “Vesuvius” and I think detail not main idea normally) (Proper names are often useful in questions though so I underline it)

another example/castle (okay, more detail, the key idea was probably at the top of the paragraph) (perhaps classification)

Now try a reading exercise

This text is longish – about half a full IELTS reading. The idea is to show you that you need to combine skimming with other skills too.

  • Try skimming first
  • Then focus on the questions
  • Scan the text by looking for words that relate to the question – that tells you where the answer is
  • Then closely read the text and question to see if it is True False or Not given.

It might help you to know that a “vulcanologist” is an expert in volcanoes. You should be able to guess this

vulcan = volcano

ologist = expert (think psychologist/geologist etc)

 

Do the practice questions

text

There are different ways in which volcanoes are classified. Perhaps the most common and certainly the one used by non-specialists is the division of volcanoes into the catgories of active, dormant or extinct. This classification is problematical as there is no clear definition of what makes a volcano active, dormant or extinct. Typically, a volcano is said to be extinct if it has not erupted in historical times, or at least since written records began, and it is dormant if it is known to have erupted in historical times but is now quiet. The difficulty with this is that man has been on the planet for a comparatively short period of time and our historical records are a rather inaccurate predictor of volcanic activity and dormant, and even extinct, volcanoes have been known to erupt. This can be exemplified by one of the most notorious episodes in the annals of vulcanology, the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. When Vesuvius did erupt, it caused massive loss of life in the nearby towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii for the simple reason that the locals had not just settled in towns near to the volcano but they had even gone so far as to build vineyards on its slopes. An assumption had been made that just because it had not erupted in memory, it would not erupt. Indeed, this is by no means an isolated example of humans deciding to settle near volcanoes: another famous instance is how Edinburgh Castle is likewise built on a volcano. The one difference being that the castle is still with us and has not disappeared in a cloud of ash and a torrent of lava produced by a volcanic eruption.

Scientists tend to categorise volcanoes not by their probable activity, but by their features, size, location and form. Hence vulcanologists refer to stratovolcanoes or composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes,  submarine volcanoes, cone volcanoes, mud volcanoes, supervolcanoes and subglacial volcanoes. The most dangerous of these are the supervolcanoes which should they erupt would not merely threaten the existence of a town such as Pompeii but could even call into question the future of entire continents for human habitation. They are of such magnitude that the sulphur and ash produced by an explosion could adversely affect air temperature globally. Some of the largest, and least known, volcanoes are the submarine volcanoes found on the ocean floor. Their activity often goes unnoticed by non-specialists because the sheer amount of water pressing down on them means that the gases do not escape into the atmosphere. Though, occasionally they do erupt so massively that new islands are formed above the level of the ocean. Likewise, subglacial volcanoes that form beneath the ice cap escape general notice until the ice cap melts and table top mountains appear. Stratovolcanoes, cone, shield and mud volcanoes are simply volcanoes classified by being formed of different materials and forming different shapes.

questions
True False or Not Given
1. Experts classify volcanoes by determining how active they are
2. Pliny the Younger  described the loss of life caused by Vesuvius in 79 AD
3. Not all the largest volcanoes are on the Earth’s surface.
4. Table top mountains are formed by the eruption of subglacial volcanoes.

Read the answers and explanations

See the answers

There are different ways in which volcanoes are classified. Perhaps the most common and certainly the one used by non-specialists is the division of volcanoes into the catgories of active, dormant or extinct. This classification is problematical as there is no clear definition of what makes a volcano active, dormant or extinct. Typically, a volcano is said to be extinct if it has not erupted in historical times, or at least since written records began, and it is dormant if it is known to have erupted in historical times but is now quiet. The difficulty with this is that man has been on the planet for a comparatively short period of time and our historical records are a rather inaccurate predictor of volcanic activity and dormant, and even extinct, volcanoes have been known to erupt. This can be exemplified by one of the most notorious episodes in the annals of vulcanology, the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. When Vesuvius did erupt, it caused massive loss of life in the nearby towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii for the simple reason that the locals had not just settled in towns near to the volcano but they had even gone so far as to build vineyards on its slopes. An assumption had been made that just because it had not erupted in memory, it would not erupt. Indeed, this is by no means an isolated example of humans deciding to settle near volcanoes: another famous instance is how Edinburgh Castle is likewise built on a volcano. The one difference being that the castle is still with us and has not disappeared in a cloud of ash and a torrent of lava produced by a volcanic eruption.

Scientists tend to categorise volcanoes not by their probable activity, but by their features, size, location and form. Hence vulcanologists refer to stratovolcanoes or composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes, submarine volcanoes, cone volcanoes, mud volcanoes, supervolcanoes and subglacial volcanoes. The most dangerous of these are the supervolcanoes which should they erupt would not merely threaten the existence of a town such as Pompeii but could even call into question the future of entire continents for human habitation. They are of such magnitude that the sulphur and ash produced by an explosion could adversely affect air temperature globally. Some of the largest, and least known, volcanoes are the submarine volcanoes found on the ocean floor. Their activity often goes unnoticed by non-specialists because the sheer amount of water pressing down on them means that the gases do not escape into the atmosphere. Though, occasionally they do erupt so massively that new islands are formed above the level of the ocean. Likewise, subglacial volcanoes that form beneath the ice cap escape general notice until the ice cap melts and table top mountains appear. Stratovolcanoes, cone, shield and mud volcanoes are simply volcanoes classified by being formed of different materials and forming different shapes.

1. False –  Look at the sentences highlighted in red. Scientists/experts classify/categorise volcanoes by their size etc. Non-experts classify them by how active they are. To get this right you need to focus on the whole question and read the whole sentence in the passage.

2. Not Given – Look at the sentences in blue. We have information about Vesuvius and loss of life but nothing about Pliny. We don’y know if this is true or false and so it is not given. Again to get this right you need to read the whole question. If you forget about Pliny it would be true. [The fact is true but not in the text]

3. True – Look at the sentence in green. To get this right you need to think about the meaning of words. “Submarine” and “on the ocean floor” mean the same as not on the Earth’s surface.

If I have helped you with these ideas and resources, please share them
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5 Responses to A skimming exercise with true false not given practice

  1. sajjad July 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    im 1st hahahaa i like ur blog its awesome

  2. Florence January 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Thanks for this advice.
    Reading is my weakest area . I am now determined to win.
    post more advice…..! Thanks

  3. Sal April 19, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    This may be a minor point, but I feel that italics is less readable for long sample texts.

    Thank you so much for your highly informative, very useful, and – so far – totally free resource!

    Sal

  4. duong May 11, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    hi, Mr Dominic,
    thanks for your useful experience. Since lacking of vocabulary, i have a lot of difficulties when study and practice IELTS.
    I try clicking http://www.shaks.ws but there is some problems and i can not use this tool. Can you give me a hand?
    Thank you so much

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Skimming in IELTS: how to practise and an exercise | Test IELTS in Italia – Corsi di Inglese - July 28, 2011

    […] Via Scoop.it – IELTSThis lesson looks at skimming – the ability to read a text quickly and understand what the general meaning is. I suggest one way to practise your skimming skills. It is a good place to start if you find you can’t read texts quickly enough and don’t like skimming and so only scan for “key words” in the text. It may help that the practice idea is really half scanning and half skimming. After a skimming exercise, there is a sample reading text with 5 true/false/not given questions.Show original […]

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