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Skimming and scanning

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:27 by NZTecAdmin
Skimming and scanning (PDF, 28 KB)

The purpose of the activity

To read more efficiently by getting a general idea of the text and of where to find relevant information within it.

Skim-reading is an activity for quickly gaining general information about a whole text. The learner ‘skims over the surface’ of the text to get a broad picture of the main content or key points. The learner may choose to pay more attention to some parts of the text than others, but reads none of the parts in close detail.

When scanning, the learner looks through a text for particular pieces of information, paying close attention to sections where they expect to find the required information and looking out for words or images that relate to it.

The teaching points

  • Identifying key points.
  • Critically evaluating own initial understanding.


  • Text as described below.

The guided teaching and learning sequence

1. Select a text that has headings and subheadings (for example, a textbook, an article or a webpage).

2. Explain skim-reading and/or scanning to the learners.

3. Give the learners one minute to skim-read headings, subheadings and some of the words they judge are ‘key’, and to note these down.

4. Give the learners three minutes to scan for three sentences that give details about one or more of the headings in the text.

5. Have the learners work in pairs to compare their findings.

6. Ask the learners to scan the text again to identify any further relevant information.



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