Techniques to increase your speed
Learn to use the following techniques separately, to switch automatically and to use several at one time:
● Skimming: Skim the text to obtain general information. Think about the general information and not the detail. Don't underline.
● Scanning: Scan for specific detail only; don't concentrate on the meaning of the text. If you start to read, or even to skim, you will find it more difficult to locate your words.
● Skim and read: Skim a text, and stop at particular points to look at the meaning. Use the questions to guide you around the text.
● Scan and skim: When you scan a text for a specific word, your eye touches the other information lightly. Because your focus is on the scanning, your eye skims the text naturally and does not slow you down. You need to practice to build your confidence.
Basic skimming techniques
1. Skim the title and the questions. They give you a summary of the passage.
2. Skim the content words only, i.e. the nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Do not look at words like the, a, in, is, etc. Underline the content words in a few paragraphs. Then read them again.
3. Skim only the basic structure of the sentences/clauses: the subject, verb, and the object (if there is one). Don't look at adverbs and adjectives.
4. Without reading the text, mark the connecting words, e.g. moreover, in addition, however, etc. Practice until you can see the connecting words automatically when you look at a paragraph. Then you do not need to mark them.
5. Skim so that you recognize common types of paragraph organization, like effects, causes, methods. etc. Sep Matching headings to paragraphs on page 12.
6. Skim only the nouns in the text to give you a general picture. Be clear about the differences between: a noun, verb adjective and adverb. Learn to recognize them and know what their function is in the sentence.
Intermediate skimming techniques
7. Read the first sentence Of a paragraph and then skim the beginning Of each sentence in the paragraph. This will show you the general theme of the paragraph. See Text organization below. For example:
His career was rather chequered, spanning a period of 30 years. He … After resigning, he … Not long after he … Van Damme then …
The referring word he carries the information through the subsequent sentences.
8. Ignore and do not underline words you do not know. Focusing on words you do not know will slow you down.
9. Skim the verbs in each sentence. This shows you the content of the text is changing.
10. Start at the verb in each sentence and look at everything after that. The verb usually marks the beginning of new information in the sentence.
11. Cover the left hand or right-hand side of a text and skim. This stops you concentrating too hard on the meaning.
12. Skim a text to understand a theme. This can be factual or ideas. For example, skim a text line by line without looking at the meaning and pick out words that form a pattern/ picture or that have something in common. As you skim, remember writers have to avoid repetition so they have to use synonyms to create a theme.
Advanced skimming techniques
13. Skim the text forwards or backwards and note words which form a general picture: airports, passengers, lounge, fly.
14. Locate the focus of the paragraph. It is not always at the beginning.
15. Use your own knowledge of different types of sentences and paragraph organizations to predict and move around the passage.
16. Look at a central point in a paragraph and then allow your eye to wander around the paragraph skimming the nouns, verbs for the general idea.
17. Use the questions to help you navigate text.