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The main problem students face in the reading section of the PTE Academic Exam is time management. The multiple-choice sections seem to take too long so you can be left without time to complete the other tasks adequately. Skimming and scanning can help you manage your time and achieve 65, 79, or even a 90 Score. Here is how you can implement them for PTE Reading.

In Reading Multiple Choice, Choose Single Answer, limit your time to two minutes. If you do not make a choice and move on, you will leave yourself short of time. So make a choice, and move on. There is no negative marking in this section so you will not be penalized for a wrong answer.

In Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answers, there is negative marking for choosing an incorrect answer. In this section, limit your time to three minutes. You will need to select one, two or three answers at this time. At about three minutes, make sure you have made your selections and move on. Two correct answers are worth more than two correct answers and one incorrect one, so leave it at two. Of course, if you can figure out three correct answers at the time, then well done. Even so, limit your time to close to three minutes, and move on. You will need to watch the clock, as these sections are not individually timed.

Time management in Skimming and Scanning

You may get 2 to 3 of each type of question in a test.

To help you make the best choices in all sections of the reading test, the skills of skimming and scanning will help.


Skimming involves not reading every word, but instead moving the eyes quickly over the text and allowing the main ideas (nouns, verbs) to become obvious. Keep your eyes open, and move them deliberately quickly across the options, to see which words are repeating, the main words in each option, and gain an idea of what the text is overall going to be about. Come to a mental conclusion.

Remember that not all options are correct so there will be some misleading information in the options, of course, so be aware of this. None the less, the information will guide you to anticipate what the text will be about.

Then read the text. It is called deep reading because it involves reading every word to gain an understanding of the text and allowing the meaning to form in your memory. There will be words that you may not recognize, at times, just push on. These may be explained in a context further on in the text.

Having read the whole text to the end (without referring to the answer options), then it is the time to re-read the prompt and read each of the answer options one by one. Decide if the option is correct or incorrect according to the text. Refer the answer option to the text, and if they say the same thing, then it is correct. Decide and move on!

Therefore, in preparing to answer the task, do the following:

    1. Understand the prompt. You may turn the sentence into a question for yourself to make it easier to know what to read for.
  1. Skim the answer options to predict what the text will be about. It is well known that if you predict before reading a text, you will understand the text better on the first reading.


Scanning can be used to select keywords from the answer options and then locate them in the text. Select the word. Then quickly look for it in the main text, by either seeing it straight away or systematically looking very quickly over the text from the beginning until you see the word in the text. Then slow down, and read around the keyword, deciding if the sentence has the same meaning as your answer option.

Skimming and scanning are good skills to develop to speed your accuracy in the reading section of the test, and we all help our students master this strategy (that’s why they get the highest possible scores)

Skimming and Scanning also apply to Fill in the Blanks. Here, it is a good idea to:

(1) identify the word type—noun, verb or adjective,

(2) predict what word is needed, and

(3) select from the options.

In conclusion, it is a good idea to manage your time in the reading section of the test to ensure you have sufficient time to answer each question as accurately as you can. Time management means budgeting your time.

Use skimming (to predict) and scanning (to find) to help with the management of these tasks.

Written by David

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