Skim and scan

Skimming & Scanning

Skimming is to read a text rapidly to get a general overview of the material (i.e) to know the main theme or idea behind the passage. Scanning is to read a text rapidly to find specific information such as figures, names, etc.

Moving on to the next section, here are the steps to help you get the high band you’re aiming for in reading:

  1. Skim the passage – Skim the passage to know what the general idea behind the passage is.
  2. Read the question and identify the type of question – Each question falls under a question type (this is elaborated further down the page). Read the question and identify which question type it belongs to.
  3.  Remember the technique behind the question type – Each question type follows a strategy which helps us find the answers easily ( also explained further down). Recall the technique and find the answer according to it.
  4. Find the keyword – Each question would have a keyword that can be found somewhere in the passage. Discover this keyword and locate the keyword in the passage.
  5. Read around the keyword – Once you’ve located the keyword, read around the keyword (i.e) read a few sentences before and after the keyword to find the answer.
  6. Learn to guess the meaning – Know how to guess the meaning from the context given in the passage. 
  7. Write the answer – Find the answer and write it down. Move on to the next question quickly, as we don’t have much time.

How are skimming and scanning different?

Skimming is reading quickly to find the general overview of the passage.

Scanning is reading quickly to find specific details within the passage.

What are some skimming techniques?

Always think about the title, headings, and topic sentences of reading passages, as they are the main ideas. Always read the major parts such as the titles and headings carefully when you are skimming a reading passage. The main idea of entire readings, sections, or paragraphs of reading passages should become clear when doing this.

Reading either the first sentence, or the first and last sentence of a paragraph is another great skimming technique. The first and/or last sentence of a paragraph will provide enough information about the general overview of a paragraph for the most part. Heading match and title match questions are easier to answer when using this technique.

What are some scanning techniques?

Key words are most important when scanning. When scanning a text, vocabulary such are proper nouns, dates, numbers, and times is what you are looking for. Specific details can also be found when using scanning techniques.

When scanning a reading passage, it is most important that you know the key words in the question so that you can find the key words in the reading passage.

When looking for specific details, there are different ways to scan a reading passage. Here are some examples:

You can follow your finger or a pen/pencil in order to create better scanning techniques. Circling or underlining the key words within the reading passage is another good option to consider.