Scanning is a useful strategy in IELTS

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Because you already scan many different types of material in your daily life, learning more details about scanning will be easy. Establishing your purpose, locating the appropriate material, and knowing how the information is structured before you start scanning is essential.

The material you scan is typically arranged in the following ways: alphabetically, chronologically, non-alphabetically, by category, or textually. Alphabetical information is arranged in order from A to Z, while chronological information is arranged in time or numerical order.

Information can be also be arranged in non- alphabetical order, such as a television listing, or by category, listings of like items such as an auto parts catalog.

Sometimes information is located within the written paragraphs of text, also known as a textual sense, as in an encyclopedia entry.

Use Your Hands When Scanning

Learning to use your hands while scanning is very helpful in locating specific information. Do you do anything with your hands to locate a word in a dictionary? To find a meeting time on your calendar? To read a train or bus schedule?

Using your hand or finger is extremely helpful in focusing your attention and keeping your place while scanning a column of material.

Use Peripheral Vision When Scanning

Your peripheral vision can also help you scan effectively. When your hand moves down a list of names, you see not only the name your finger is pointing to, but also the names above and below. Let your eyes work for you when searching for information. Keep the concept of key words in mind while scanning.

Your purpose will determine the key words. Suppose you are looking for the time a train leaves from New York City for Washington, D.C. The key words to keep in mind are “from New York City” and “to Washington,D.C.”

If you are looking for the cost of a computer printer with the code number PX-710, the key word to locate in a list of many printers is “PX-710.”

Scanning process looks like this:

How is skimming different to scanning?

The term skimming is often confused with scanning.
 You skim a text to obtain the gist – the overall sense – of a piece of writing. This can help you decide whether to read it more slowly and in more detail.

 You scan a text to obtain specific information. For example, to find a particular number in a telephone directory.

Now it’s time for practice

To stay healthy, the body’s needs for energy and nutrients must be met. This is particularly important in growing children as damage inflicted may not be reversible and can affect normal development. People whose diet lacks the necessary nutrients suffer from malnutrition, a condition that includes both over-nutrition and under-nutrition and is considered a risk factor for health.


Under-nutrition is in news reports of famines in poor countries, but it can also be found in developed countries. In industrialised countries, under-nutrition can be seen in young people who have eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, where the amount of energy they consume in food is less than the needs of their body.

If children’s diets are too low in energy, they will stop growing and gaining weight. They will become lethargic, less active and be unable to concentrate. If the situation continues, they may develop life-threatening diseases. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2012) reports that 100 million children under the age of five are underweight and 35% of all deaths of children under five are caused by malnutrition.

When people suffer from under-nutrition, they are often deficient in vitamins and minerals needed by the body. For example, they may not have enough Vitamin A. If this deficiency is not tackled, eyesight may be permanently damaged. Lack of iron is another very common form of deficiency. This helps to explain why about 50% of women in India suffer from some degree of anaemia.


Over-nutrition is usually associated with industrialised countries, although it is now also a problem among affluent people in developing countries. The main problem is that the amount of energy consumed in food is greater than the needs of the body and this can result in people becoming overweight or obese. As with under-nutrition, this may lead them to become lethargic, less active and less able to concentrate.

Further health problems will arise over time, particularly if the diet is high in saturated fat. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature; examples include animal fats, dairy products and coconut and palm oil. Eating a diet high in saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, arthritis, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body has trouble making its own insulin to control the level of sugar in the blood. Because it tends to develop in adults, it is also known as adult-onset diabetes. However, growing numbers of young adults and children are now developing it.


Quickly scan the text to answer the following questions. Make your notes in the box below before looking at the answer.

  1. How many children are underweight?
  2. What percentage of children die because of under-nutrition?
  3. What diseases are caused by over-nutrition?
  4. Who develops type 2 diabetes – adults or children?

You will need to first select the relevant section. To answer questions 1 and 2, look for numbers and percentages. To answer questions 3 and 4 look for specific words.


Рубрики: IELTS

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