Skill: Skim/scan for information

Student Speak Objective
Read quickly and look for information (skimming and scanning)
Definition
There are different styles of reading for different situations. The technique you choose will depend on the purpose for reading. For example, you might be reading for enjoyment, information, or to complete a task. You need to adjust your reading speed and technique depending on your purpose.

Skimming – is used to quickly identify the basic overall idea of a text, rather than absorbing all the details. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming to see if an article is of interest and something you might need to read in more detail.

Scanning – is a technique you use when you know what you're looking for, so you're concentrating on finding a particular answer. Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page seeking specific key words and phrases. For example, looking for your name in a list of names, you would scan because you are not interested in getting a general idea of the text.

In conclusion, skimming refers to selecting a set of words that are believed to indicate the overall topic or theme of the text while scanning refers to selecting information to answer a specific question.
‘Good Reader’ Characteristics
  • Use headings such as titles and subtitles
  • Review the illustrations such as graphs, tables, and charts
  • Reading first and or last paragraphs
  • Look for words that are bold faced, italics, or in a different font size, style, or color
  • Search for keywords
  • Use summarizes such as key ideas in the margin
  • Use summarizes such as key ideas in the margin
  • Use organizers such as numbers, letters, steps, or the words, first, second, or next
  • Look for times, dates and places
  • Read 3 to 4 times faster
  • Figure out what may be of use 
Possible strategies



  • Be a Super Reader. Read the page Super Reading, then take the online quiz.

  • Practice Skimming and Scanning. Go Amyby's Education Resources and choose some online text to practice you skimming and scanning skills.

  • Complete a WebQuest or an Internet Treasure Hunt. Many webquests can be used to practice skimming and scanning skills. Internet Treasure Hunts are also good practice. Use the Filamentality and WebQuest page website to search for projects in your subject area.

Scim_scan website