IELTS Tips: How to Get the Gist When Reading

Gist refers to the core idea of a written or spoken discourse. Reading for the gist, also known as skimming, is one of the most useful tips that an IELTS review center instructor will teach you. Read on to find out how to get the gist in any text effectively.

  1. Establish “who” or “what” it is about
    The best way to determine the core message of a paragraph is to understand its components. Skim its sentences. Pinpoint proper nouns, verbs, and recurring words to find out what the paragraph is talking about.

    Pro Tip for IELTS test takers: Read the questions first to get an idea of what to expect and what to search for when you read the text. The teachers at the IELTS review center in Davao and in our other branches can teach you the other advantages of reading the questions first before the text.

  2. Identify what is being said about the subject
    Once you have determined the topic, pay attention to what is being said about it. Here are some questions you should keep in mind while reading.
    • What is the primary purpose of the text? Is it telling a story, expressing an opinion, selling a product, or just relaying information?
    • What is the angle or perspective of the text? Is it in the first, second, or third person point of view? Knowing who is talking in the text is crucial, especially if it is a narrative.

  3. Condense paragraphs into sentences
    If you are reading a paragraph that has more than five sentences, summarize it before moving to the next one. This will save you the trouble of rereading it later if you forget its key point. Write your summary sentence at the margin of the paragraph.
    Pro Tip for IELTS test takers: Aside from condensing the paragraph into a single sentence, you can also identify key words and phrases and encircle them as you go through the text. Practice this technique on your IELTS review center reading exercises.

Cut down the time you spend reading in the IELTS exam. Use these steps to help you get the gist of the text the first time you go through it. Enroll in the IELTS review center in Davao and in our other branches across the country to learn other useful strategies for the high-stakes exam.


"Get the GIST: A Summarizing Strategy for Any Content Area." Accessed October 12, 2017.

“Get the Gist—Reading and Learning Strategy.” NBSS. Accessed October 12, 2017.

"How to Help English Learners Read More Quickly." British Council. Accessed October 12, 2017.

Jennings, Doresa. “Getting the Gist of an Essay & Improve Reading Comprehension.” Accessed October 12, 2017.

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