Skimming and scanning are two key techniques that can help you read more efficiently, especially under timed conditions, such as exams.
Skimming involves quickly reading through a text to gain an overall impression. It’s not about understanding every word or detail, but about getting a general sense of what the text is about.
Start by reading the title and subtitles to get an idea of the topic.
Scanning involves looking for specific information in a text. It’s like being a detective: you know what you’re looking for, and you’re scanning the text to find it. Let’s look at how to scan text:
Signposting features such as headings, subheadings and the use of text styles like bold or italics can assist in skimming and scanning by giving you clues about the content of the text.
For example, a heading like “The Impact of Climate Change” tells you that the following section will discuss this topic. Bold or italicised words can also signal important points or terms.
Being able to distinguish important from non-important information quickly can save you time and help you focus on what’s most relevant.
Key points are often found in the first and last sentences of a paragraph, while supporting details or examples are in the middle. Look for words or phrases that signal importance, such as “most importantly,” “in conclusion,” or “the key point is.”
In an exam, time is of the essence, so let’s look at three tips for using skimming and scanning techniques under timed conditions: