Skimming and Scanning

Reading is known to be one of the most difficult skills of language due to its complexity and variety according to most of students who have taken TOEFL. Readers may face many difficulties in the path to comprehension. On the other hand, reading strategies are good signals and the most effective means of helping students to overcome these problems. Therefore, in this section, we focus on two important reading strategies.

Skimming and scanning are reading techniques in which the reader moves his eyes quickly through the text for slightly various purposes. Skimming is reading fast to get a general view of the text while scanning is also reading rapidly for the purpose of finding specific facts and information from the text. Furthermore, skimming helps you to find out what general information is within a section, scanning, on the other hand, helps you find out a particular fact.


Skimming saves hours of reading, but it is not always recommended to use because you might miss important points. Skimming is hugely beneficial for previewing a detailed text or when the reading is cumbersome in content. Moreover, skimming can be used for overviewing the textbook chapters to decide if you need to read something at all or no.

How to skim?

  • Read the title, subtitles to find out what is the text about.
  • Look at the illustrations to give you further information about the topic.
  • Read the first and the last sentence in a paragraph.
  • Don’t read every word or every sentence. Let your eyes skim and over the text and taking in keywords.
  • Look at pictures, table, etc. They will give you a hint about the text.



Scanning a text requires a quick look through a text to find specific information. Scanning is largely used in everyday life, for instance when searching for a word in a dictionary or finding friend’s name in the contacts of cell phone. In addition, scanning is also used to find the answer for a question in a text.

How to scan?

  • Glide your eyes or allow your fingers quickly move over the lines.
  • Look for the keywords and clues to help you find what you are looking for.
  • As soon as a keyword is caught across your eyes, stop reading.
  • when you found information requiring attention, then slow down to read the relevant part more thoroughly.

Click on the following link to practice scanning and skimming.

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