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Reading skills that you must know to read better


Reading skills that you must know to read better




Most good readers spend a few minutes previewing before they begin to read. Previewing a book or article means looking it over to get a general idea of what it will be about. It allows you to recall what you already know about a topic, and think about what you are going to learn.



Finding the main idea


The topic of an article refers to what the article is about. The main idea of an article goes one step further. The main idea includes the topic and also what the writer wants to say about the topic. For example:

Finding the main idea


The main idea of an article is usually stated in the first paragraph, often in the first or last sentence. Sometimes it is stated in the last paragraph, which often summarizes the article. The main idea may be a full sentence or just a few words.

Each paragraph in an article contributes its own facts, definitions, and examples that help explain the main idea of the article. This means that each paragraph has its own main idea. Often it is in the first sentence of the paragraph.





Students often need to find specific information from a text that they have already read. Instead of rereading the entire text, you can scan the article to find the information you need. Scanning means quickly passing your eyes over a text to notice specific things.

Think about what to scan for in order to find specific information.

Scanning a reading

Identifying Examples


One way that writers make their ideas clear is by giving examples. Sometimes an entire text is made up of examples, with each paragraph giving a different kind of example to support the main idea of the reading. There might also be several examples within one paragraph to help explain the ideas in that paragraph.

You can identify examples in a text by looking for certain signals. Here are some common words and phrases that signal examples:

Identifying Examples



Identifying Definition


Writers use entire passage to arrive at a full description of success. Each paragraph contains information that adds to the definition. Within the text, there are definitions of other words related to success. For some words, authors provide a definition.



Identifying Time and Sequence Words


Understanding the order of events in a story is often essential for understanding the story. The order of events can be shown in several ways:

1. Sentences in a paragraph usually describe actions in the order that they happened.

2. Time words such as Monday, March, summer, or 1989 tell when actions took place.

3. Words such as before, after, soon, first, next, meanwhile, then, finally, and subsequently can show the order of events.

4. Phrases such as three days later, the next year, and at the same time also show time order.



Reading Numerical Tables


Numerical tables can provide a lot of information in a small space. The information is usually arranged in rows and columns, which makes it easy to read and to compare facts. To preview a table or chart:

1. Read the title to see what kind of information is given.

2. Read the labels at the top of each column.

3. Note the date of the table so that you will know how recent the information is.



Making Inference


To infer is to use indirect information or evidence to come to a decision or a logical conclusion. Parents of an autistic child must often use inference to understand their child's behavior because the child may not be able to explain what he wants or what he doesn't like. (Inferenece is what you can conclude out of a sentence(s) meaning)



In the market, Shawn covers his ears and is soon screaming. His mom Infers that the noise hurts his ears.

Shawn's mother made an inference based on what she saw. Maybe she was correct, or maybe she wasn't, but it was a logical conclusion.



Reading Statistical Tables


Articles about scientific topics frequently contain statistics that support the information in the text. 

Numerical information in tables is often reduced for clarity. The table in a Reading eliminates the many zeros in the numbers by telling the reader that amounts are in million tons. So,  the number 4.2 really means 4,200,000. Shortened numbers are read differently from complete numbers. For example, you read "four point two million."

Numbers in tables are also often rounded up or down. The actual number might be 4,198,314, for example, but that number is rounded up to 4.2 million.



Distinguishing fact from opinion


As you read, it is important to recognize the difference between a fact and an opinion.

Fact: information that can be proven to be right or wrong

Opinion: a statement that you cannot prove to be either right or wrong


Opinions often contain value words such as best, worst, beautiful, awful, funniest, or most interesting. Compare these two statements:

It is raining.

The weather is awful.

You can prove the first statement by looking out of the window. The second statement is someone's opinion of the weather, so you cannot prove it is right or wrong.