PTE Reading

Skimming and Scanning - How it can win you a High Score in PTE Reading

January 18,2018

Enough is said and talked about PTE Writing and Speaking. While those modules might be challenging, and of course, we will continue providing inside tip & strategies for them; PTE Reading is an equally important task which truly tests your skills. Here, we are going to dig a little deeper into this specific module. And accept it, most of us are just too lazy to read. Reading habit can certainly be developed and regular academic reading proves to be beneficial for your PTE score and improves subconscious cognitive skills, too. But, is that the only way to get a good score in PTE Reading section?

Are there any explicit techniques used for reading or is it just simple reading and answering the questions asked? Let's find out more.

If you are not thoroughly aware yet, then you must know that PTE reading has 5 types of tasks out of which 4 types have negative marking. As PTE is an integrated exam, one of those 5 tasks assesses both reading and writing skills. The total time allotted for overall reading is around 32-41 minutes.

PTE Academic Test Format Overview

Task Type Number of Items Scoring Skills Assessed
Multiple choice, choose single answer 2 - 3 Correct / Incorrect reading
Multiple choice, choose
multiple answers
2 - 3 Partial Credit (For Each Correct Response. Point Deducted For Incorrcet Option Chosen) reading
Reorder paragraphs 2 - 3 Partial Credit (For Each Correctly Ordered Adjacent Pair) reading
Reading Fill in the blanks 4 - 5 Partial Credit (For Each Correctly Completed Blank) reading
Reading and writing Fill in the blanks 5 - 6 Partial Credit (For Each Correctly Completed Blank) reading and writing

While each question carefully reads out the instructions, there are certain strategies that can help you speed up reading. Those are Skimming and Scanning. Both of them are different techniques and can help you read quickly in an effective manner. And we know you have most definitely heard of it. But, are you doing it right?

Importance of Skimming and Scanning

Talking about PTE Academic Exam, the reading tasks are time bound overall. A test taker needs to manage the overall time such that maximum number of questions or even all of them are answered. If you have the knowledge of the PTE Test format, then you already know that almost every passage's length is up to 300 words. In order to attempt all the questions successfully, you must spend no more than 2 minutes on each one of them.

This is where the two methods- Skimming and Scanning come into play.

How Skimming works for PTE

Skimming works very well when you do not have time in your hand. In this process, you have to simple look for the main ideas in the different paragraphs of the passage. You do not read the entire text fast. Instead, you majorly read the first and last sentence of the paragraph to get the gist of what it is trying to tell. To explain it further, you actually read important words in the entire article.


A technique to quickly go through an article or a passage to get the generic idea of it.

You must be able to read the important sentences or words faster and leave out the irrelevant ones.

As we all know the first sentence is a topic sentence which introduces the topic and the last one is the conclusion gives a summary of the idea of the topic. Make sure to read the first and last paragraphs carefully. Take note of headings, subheadings, dates, phrases, names, words that are italicized or bold, and pictures/ charts (if any). Especially for the multiple choice questions, you can sometimes be asked a general question which might need you to know what the entire passage revolves around or what is the conclusion of the given text or tell about the perspective of the author. Here, ensure that you read the first and last paragraphs quickly as that is where your answer is likely to be. This way you can get to know the central idea of the paragraph and also the passage.

Quick Tips

Read the title of the passage (if given)

Read the first and last line of each paragraph.

Make sure to note the headings, subheadings and titles.

Bold words, italicized words, date, names are important to note.

How Scanning works for PTE

Scanning differs in a way where one looks for precise information in the given passage and not read it entirely. It allows you to locate specific details and find out the answer rather quickly. Sometimes in the PTE-A Test, you might come across a passage in the reading section where you can actually look at it and understand how it is structured. Probably because that the passage talks about a familiar topic.


A methodology where to find a specific word or information/ text in the paragraph.

More focus is on the keywords. The priority is to pinpoint the information and not comprehend the paragraph or passage.

Now, it becomes simpler if you come across a topic that is a known or subject of your interest. Mostly, the PTE passages are related to Science, history or current affairs. You will naturally be quick in scanning and also skimming it. However, the trick here sometimes is that the text can be contextually different which means you can land for one information at two different paragraphs. You have got to be cautious.

In PTE, it is advised to read the question first and then go to the passage. Scanning works wonderfully well when you are hunting for a specific name or incident or date. You do know that the answers are not necessarily located in order all over the passage. Also, the word in the question might have its synonym mentioned or some phrase might be used which means that particular word. So, this strategy is best when a contextual question is not asked.

Quick Tips

Read the title of the passage (if given)

Locate the keywords. The quick tip is to take note of synonyms.

Names and numbers are easier to find as they do not have a synonym.

Notice the action words like 'found', 'invented', 'introduced', 'observed'.

Words that are periodically repeated in the passage.

Make sure to note the headings, subheadings, titles, bold words, italicized words, date, names, numbers.

Both Skimming and Scanning goes hand in hand while you are trying to ace the PTE Reading. And they are not tough after all. A good practice sis what it takes to master this art. Do remember the negative marking! We will discuss about the scoring and negative marking in the coming blogs. You can also do independent exercise while generally read some magazine or newspaper to get a hold of these two practices.

At PTE Tutorials you have 30+ PTE Practice Test. So, you need not worry! What you need is the will to achieve a score of 70 or more and start preparing smartly. We would definitely keep you posted with more tips in the blog section. You can also take the scored test where your tests will be evaluated entirely. Thus, you can keep a check on your overall performance. If you have already started your preparation or even if you haven't, you will find useful materials & service for yourself here at PTE Tutorials.