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Finding Information: Skimming and Scanning
This lesson focuses on the skills of skimming and scanning. These are two skills that are very important for the IELTS to reading paper. They’re important for the reading paper because on IELTS reading exam you really don’t have much time to read each passage carefully and answer all the questions. You can’t read like you would something for fun at home or an essay for school. On the IELTS, if you take a long time to read each passage you really really won’t have time to answer your questions.
So we need things like skimming and scanning to help us get through the paper more quickly. Okay, so let’s talk about what these skills are. Skimming and scanning, as we already said, they are about finding information quickly without reading everything carefully. Okay, so let’s imagine, we come to a text like this one on the IELTS exam, and by the way, don’t read this all now.
The letters are way too small and I’m just using this as an example for skimming and scanning. Okay, but lets imagine we come to this on the IELTS exam. The first thing you wanna do is skim the passage. Okay, so what is that? Skimming is finding information about main ideas, about the the basic topic of an essay.
You do this by taking a few seconds to look at any information you can, from the title to words that stand out in each paragraph. To are there any pictures or diagrams? Anything you can find to get the main idea of the passage before you read it. On our sample essay I might start with the first paragraph. Go down through, quickly, take a couple of seconds, see what stands out to you.
Can you figure out what the topic is? Can you find some words that are really important to that paragraph? Move on to the next paragraph and so on, all the way through, in a few seconds to try to figure out as much as you can about the passage. Skimming is useful for getting the gist of a passage, getting the basic concept. You can get a lot of information through skimming.
You can figure out the structure of a passage, you can figure out where certain information might be located. It really is a good use of time if you spend a few seconds to try to figure out what the essay would be about before you ever read it. Okay, so scanning then is a little bit different. After you have started answering questions is when you’re most likely to use the skill of scanning.
Scanning involves looking back through a passage and trying to find specific specific information, okay? Finding details from the passage. So from the passage we had before, we might look at the first paragraph because maybe on the IoT exam they asked you a question let’s say about animals, okay? Some specific animals you were supposed to recall.
All right, so if you have a memory of where those might be you can go back to that paragraph and quickly scan the paragraph for that specific information. You don’t read those whole paragraph from top to bottom. If that questions about animals for this paragraph. Perhaps I can quickly scan through and find the mention of animals in the middle. And hopefully, that portion of the paragraph will give you the information you’re looking for to answer that specific question.
You’ve scanned, instead of read the whole paragraph in detail. So scanning is about finding details and it is really, really useful for so many IELTS questions that ask you to find detailed information or to paraphrase certain words. It’s really a great skill for helping your score on the IELTS reading paper. My advise is of course to practice with IELTS reading material with your practice questions you’re doing.
Practice first skimming before you answer questions and read the passage and then, scanning after you’ve read it and you’re trying to answer questions. But I would do this with other things you read as well. Before you read a newspaper article, can you go through and skim it to figure out what the topic will be? Practice this kind of skill, ask yourself comprehension questions related to detail after you’ve read something.
Go back through a piece of writing and try to find those things it’s going to help your score on the IELTS reading if you get a lot of practice in skimming and scanning so that you can do it well on exam day.
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