Skimming – Reading for information

Skimming is one of the most underrated skills available to students.  Frankly, I am surprised its not taught and utilized more often.

Students often feel overwhelmed by the amount of reading one has to do in order to write a paper, fill out a worksheet, or obtain useful information.  However, if they only had the skill of skimming, and skimming with spped and accuracy their lives would be a whole lot easier.

Because the purpose of this blog is to help make your work and your academic life easier, I have come up with a few steps which, with a little practice, should  make reading for information a bit easier.

By no means should skimming be used as a source for close reading, reading the story, poem or play profoundly will make you a better student and, later on, a better skimmer.

Tip #1

Train your eyes to see the whole page and move quickly.

Exercise 1
Look at any regular page of text.  Scan each line as quickly as you can reading the first word and the last word only. Do this for the entire page as quickly as you can.
Exercise 2
Look at any regular page of text.  Move your eyes up and down looking at each word in the top sentence and the last sentence of the page.  Do this as quickly as possible.
Exercise 3
Open up your vision field.  What do I mean by this?  Rather than focus on one single word try to look at the whole sentence.  (Move the book away from your face if you want). Your goal here should be to see and scan as much as you can in one swipe of your eyes.With enough practice, you could scan whole paragraphs, in one swipe.

 

Tip #2

Search for key words.  When you scan a text for information, you should already have something in mind.  Searching for key words speeds up the process because you can, in a sense, skip every other word until you come across a word that may or may not have something to do with your desired subject.

Try it with a newspaper first or news article online. Keep in mind you want to find out Who? What?  Where? And Why?

 Tip #3

Practice.  The more you practice the better you willbecome.  When you are reading for information, try it out.  I promise you will be a lot happier you did.