Many of my students often complain about being unable to locate keywords in the IELTS reading test, especially when they get stressed about time. Indeed, being able to locate keywords is a very important skill, however, students often find this difficult because they don’t know where the keywords are in a given text. Today, let’s talk about how you can improve your skills in locating keywords quickly.

First, choose one article for this practice - preferably an academic article from magazines, journals, books or newspaper. Next, give yourself one minute to skim the text to get the general idea. Then in the text, underline the names, dates, numbers and words with capital letters, and ask yourself what these keywords mean. Be critical! Pay particular attention to the sentence where these keywords are used - they will often tell you more about these keywords. 

Do these keywords refer to a specific time when something happened in the past? Is it a particular person mentioned in the article? If so, what did he/she do? Is it a place? If so, what was mentioned about that place? Did something happen there? If it’s a date, why is it important? Did anything happen on that particular day? Pay special attention to each of these keywords because names and dates are often mentioned more than once, so make sure you read ALL the relevant parts of the article.

This is a simple and easy-to-do exercise, and you can practice on a daily basis. Again, don’t worry if you don’t understand every word. Focus on locating the keywords as these often carry the most important information needed for answering exam questions.