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Finding Information - How to Scan
You may already be familiar with scanning in your own language, but it can cause trouble when doing it in English, sometimes. So, let’s talk about a way, a method of scanning, that will make it faster for you if you have any trouble with this. So, scanning is all about keywords. First, look at the question.
What words do you need to find? So you’re going to scan the text looking, looking, looking, looking, and you’re going to be thinking about keywords for when you will stop looking. So you’re going to look for those keywords in the text. Or synonyms of those keywords. This is very important.
Let’s say for example, you’re looking for something about animals. And, you look through the text and you only look for words that start with A-N-I-M. If you’re only thinking about these letters then you might miss something that says creatures and creatures are animals. These are mostly synonymous.
So this sentence about creatures, whatever it says in the text, might actually give the answer about a question about animals. So you need to look for keywords or synonyms. Now, let’s say I have a word like animals, and I look through the text and I read every single word. I’m going to spend a lot of time doing that.
So, how can I avoid reading everything, reading full sentences? You’re going to go through multiple times and just look at the center of the text. By going through once quickly. And then again quickly. So keep your eyes in the center.
I’ll show you this in a moment. After you find the synonym or keyword, then you read the sentences around that keyword or synonym. So this is the basic idea of scanning. What keywords do you need, find them, read the sentences. So here’s a question, this is about sexual reproduction in clonal plants.
So, these are the key words here, and the text is mostly about clonal plants. So, these key words might not be so easy to find. I’m going to choose these ones. I am looking for something about sexual reproduction. Now, in my paragraph, there is a lot of information. This one’s relatively short actually.
But I’m going to ignore everything in the sides and I’m going to look just in the center here, and I’m looking for something about sexual reproduction. And when I do that I see something here that looks good and in fact I do see reproduce sexually, and now that I have these keywords here about sexual reproduction I look at the full sentence. What does this say?
Realistically, most times you have a longer paragraph. So if you imagine this paragraph goes on and on and on and on, then finding that sentence is very helpful, because it means you only have to read a short amount of text instead of the whole paragraph. This paragraph is pretty short, but on your actual TOEFL you’ll be doing this with long paragraphs too, and sometimes, multiple paragraphs, two paragraphs or more.
So this is very important for the reading section in particular. You will be scanning quite often for detail questions, for except questions, inference questions, categorization, many questions types. And we’ll talk more about these in other lessons. But scanning just to find information quickly is one of the most important TOEFL reading skills.
So practice going down the middle of the text and just finding keywords, as I talked about.
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