IELTS Reading: Importance of Using Keywords & Synonyms

Apr 03,2023

IELTS Reading - Importance of Using Keywords and Synonyms

IELTS Reading is one of the essential components of the IELTS exam. Many candidates struggle to score High Band Scores in IELTS as they do not have daily reading habits. The question that arises here is what are the essential factors that can help in increasing the IELTS Reading score. Apart from daily reading practice, IELTS Reading preparation requires full concentration and sound knowledge of the reading techniques to ace the reading test. This blog will discuss some of the tips to improve your reading skills.

Before we move any further, let us understand why the IELTS reading module is challenging for many candidates.

The reading section of IELTS General Training is relatively more straightforward than the IELTS Academic. But, in the case of IELTS Academic, the passages are pretty lengthy, and they involve a lot of descriptive and narrative information, which can be a tedious and time-consuming task for most students.

Preapre Yourself for IELTS Reading Exam

Hence, the Following Reasons Contribute to Increasing the Pressure in the Reading Module:

  1. Reading detailed information will take a lot of time, which you may not have.
  2. You do not understand the meaning of certain words used as synonyms in the text.
  3. You do not have a specific strategy to answer different question types.

The outcome of these reasons is nothing but a poor band score in the reading module. Thus, you must improve your vocabulary and work on synonyms for an effective result on the test day.

To be more specific, candidates should learn how to identify essential keywords in the text that can assist in finding the correct answer from the passage.

What are keywords?

Keywords in the text are words used to extract meaningful information from the  content. Thus, keywords play an essential role in determining the correct answer in the reading module. One of the important strategies for IELTS Reading is underlining the keywords as you skim through the text. Keywords help in locating the correct answer from the text.

Hence, aspirants appearing for IELTS Academic or IELTS General training must learn how to find the right keywords that can lead to correct answers. Be mindful when you identify the keywords, as they are often paraphrased to confuse the candidates.

How to Find the Right Keywords?

An essential tip for finding keywords is to focus on the questions. Most questions have a word that will guide you to identify the keywords. Once you have understood the question, it will be easier to locate the answer within the text.

Let us see an example,

Review of which company says that it is the best security company he/she worked for?

  • Chipotle
  • The Vitamin Shoppe
  • Universal Protection Service
  • PSA Healthcare

For the above question,” best security company” and “reviews” can be your keywords, as the question puts more effort into these words. Thus, you have to look for the above keywords in the paragraph, and your answer will be very close to these words.

What are the Most Common Keywords?

  • Dates and years (e.g., 12th February 1989)
  • Names (famous personalities, scientists, social workers, etc.)
  • Numbers and figures (1.4 million)
  • Locations (Town, cities, states and countries)
  • Nouns and verbs
  • Capitalised or Italicised words/phrases are the most common keywords that you will encounter during your IELTS Reading Session.

As you read the passage, underline important keywords and understand the sentence’s meaning. The reason behind highlighting keywords is to find easy references from the passage. For example, if the year 1989 is mentioned in a question, you have to look for this year in your text and you can spot your answer in sentences close to this word. As a result, you will secure your bands and save a lot of time.

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What are Synonyms?

Synonyms are words that have a similar meaning as the keywords, and they are often referred to as parallel expressions.

  • Ecosystem – environment
  • Cars-vehicles
  • Interested-keen
  • Cold-freezing
  • Bad-terrible
  • increasing-growing

The words mentioned above do not have the same meaning, but they are used in the same context. Hence, one must look for synonyms in the text to locate the answer.

Steps to Follow to Increase Your Reading Score:

  1. Read the question first
  2. Underline keywords
  3. Remember the keyword and look for a synonym in the text.
  4. Skim and scan the passages
  5. Locate the keywords or synonyms.
  6. Carefully read the lines above and below to find the answer.

Read More: IELTS Academic Reading – Complete Guide with Tips

Some Helpful Tips to Follow:

  • You must improve your vocabulary during your practice sessions. Note down unknown words you encounter during your mock tests and learn their meanings.
  • You will not find the exact word mentioned in the question. Hence, try to look for the synonyms, and it will save you time.
  • Answer the easy questions first and then spend some time answering difficult questions.

Using keywords and synonyms to find the correct answer needs little practice. As you put more effort into effectively using these strategies, you will find yourself in a better position on exam day.

The IELTS Reading module demands precision and concentration as it involves a lot of reading. In this section, those who do not have daily reading habits may find it challenging to score targeted bands. However, if you follow the above tips and use keywords and synonyms wisely, you can excel in the IELTS Reading Exam with a Good Band Score.

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Written By

Kirati Shah

Kirati Shah is a certified IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Trainer with 10 years of experience. She is on a mission to provide good quality lessons about IELTS and PTE through blogs and videos that can help students get their desired score and achieve their dream to migrate/study abroad.


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