How to identify keywords in a text?

Being able to identify keywords is essential for your success on IELTS/TOEFL tests, especially for the reading assignments. Read this short tutorial to get confident in identifying keywords.
A "key word" is either a noun, a verb or an adjective.
Nouns are words that signify someone or something
Adjectives describe nouns
Verbs are words that show an action, occurrence or state of being

Let's find keywords in the following sentence:


Archaeology is the study of human activity for the recovery and analysis of material culture.


Nouns: archaeology, study, activity, recovery, analysis, and culture

Verbs: In this case, there's only one verb in the sentence. The verb "to be" in its present form: "is".

Adjectives: Let's see whether there are any words that are located before the nouns.

  1. Archaeology - no adjective related

  2. Study - no adjective related

  3. Activity is accompanied by the adjective human ("human activity")

  4. Recovery - no adjective related

  5. Analysis - no adjective related

  6. Culture is accompanied by the adjective material ("material culture")

We have successfully identified all the keywords in this sentence! Good job.

Now we are ready to create some notes using these terms. Here's how we can write this down:

Topic: Arch. = study of h.a.
Topic description: Recovery, analysis of material culture

Practice keyword search in multiple texts and your reading speed will increase dramatically.

Good luck!


October, 26 / 2021
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Watch a related video lesson
Learn how to identify the important words in any text with this 3-minute video tutorial. Use this skill to succeed on a TOEFL/IELTS or any other English test.
Text author: Tanya Rozanes Olevsky


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