For the first reading lesson, we’re going to tackle a fairly easy passage. It is shorter and simpler than most IELTS reading passages, but it is nonetheless good practice. The questions work as useful models for those in the actual IELTS exam, and allow you to practice your skimming and scanning techniques on a passage that is easier to understand than a typical IELTS article. Skimming and scanning will be the focus of the questions below.

Remember that when we reading an article in an academic context, we always need to do the following:

You need to have the following skills

  • Skimming – this is reading an article quickly so you can get the gist or basic meaning of the article
  • Scanning – looking for specific information related to the questions
  • Close reading– once you know what is important – what you need to know to answer a question – you will focus and read carefully on that section

So pay attention to the following details from any reading source.


  1. What is the title given to the article?
  2. Where was this article sourced from?
  3. What do you think the article could be about from the title?
  4. Read quickly and don’t pay too much attention to difficult sections or vocabulary.


  1. List the names of: and what is said about them in the article
  2. People
  3. Organisations
  4. Countries/Cities or other places
  5. Numbers
  6. Anything else of importance that you can find. Pay attention to section topics.

Close Reading

  1. Once you know the main idea, the section topics, etc, you can read your questions and look for answers.
  2. Look for synonyms or paraphrasing. Often the question will not use the exact same word or wording as the text.
  3. Watch out for implied meanings. Just because you know something to be true, doesn’t mean it is true according to the text. Sometimes it is Not Given.


Reading Passage

The history of UFOs.

Unidentified Flying Object (or “UFO”) is a term commonly used to describe lights or shapes in the sky. It was first coined by the United States Air Force in 1952 to describe sightings of mysterious objects in the sky that could not be explained even after careful investigation. Nowadays UFOs are spotted frequently, and feature in numerous movies and TV shows. Another popular name for such an object is, “Flying Saucer,” in reference to the round shape of many UFOs.

The first widely publicized UFO sighting was in 1947, by a pilot called Kenneth Arnold. Following this event, public sightings of UFOs increased dramatically. Movies and TV shows began featuring visitors from outer space, arriving on earth in flying saucers. With the popularity of these images, many people claimed to have seen lights in the sky. Some experts believe that people simply think they see UFOs because of the influence of TV and movies.

However, experts estimate that as little as 5% of these sightings could be called “unidentified.” Usually these lights are made by aircraft, satellites, or weather balloons. Top secret air force activities during the Cold War may have been responsible for many of the UFO sightings in America and Europe. Although not actually aliens, the secretive nature of these flying objects is definitely unidentified.

Another popular idea concerning UFOs concerns the role of world governments. Specifically, people believe that the US government has discovered alien life and operates a “cover-up” to hide the truth from the public. The most widely believed cover-up is that of the Roswell Incident. In July, 1947, a UFO supposedly landed in Roswell, New Mexico, and was examined and hidden by government agents. There have been many investigations into the Roswell Incident, however, these reports always claim that no such event occurred.



(answers are at the bottom of the page)


1st Reading (Skimming)

Read through the article and answer each of the following questions.

  1. What is the purpose of this report?

a) To describe the history of alien life.

b) To describe government cover-ups.

c) To describe the history of UFO sightings.

d) To describe UFOs in popular movies.

2. Why are UFO sightings so controversial?

a) They have never been proved.

b) There are many sightings.

c) The government covers up sightings.

d) There are very few UFO sightings.

2nd Reading (Scanning)


Read the text carefully and answer each of the following questions in the form of a sentence or a short paragraph.

  1. Why is Kenneth Arnold famous among UFO believers?

a) He was at Roswell in 1947.

b) He found a UFO in 1952.

c) He saw a UFO in 1947.

d) He saw a UFO in 1952.

  1. How do experts explain many UFO sightings?

a) There are many alien visitors to earth.

b) TV and movies make people believe they see UFOs.

c) Government cover-ups make people paranoid.

d) They have no idea why there are so many sightings.

  1. What do many people believe happened at Roswell?

a) Famous movies were made.

b) Kenneth Arnold was born.

c) The first UFO sighting.

d) A UFO landed there.

Circle the best answer for each question about the reading passage

  1. Which of the following is true?

a) The first UFO was spotted in 1952.

b) The word “UFO” was first used in 1952.

c) The Roswell Incident occurred in 1952.

d) A UFO landed in America in 1952.

  1. What influence did the Cold War have upon UFO sightings?

a) American pilots saw a UFO in the Cold War.

b) More UFO movies were made in the Cold War.

c) Lots of government cover-ups occurred.

d) Top secret air force activities caused more sightings.

State whether the following statements about the reading are true (T) or false (F) according to the information in the passage.

6. Kenneth Arnold saw the first UFO.
7. The Roswell Incident occurred in 1952.
8. Experts say many normal things account for UFO sightings.
9. Flying saucers are square-shaped.



  1. C
  2. A


  1. C
  2. B
  3. D
  4. B
  5. D
  6. F
  7. F
  8. T
  9. F