A Step-by-Step Guide to Skim Reading

Looking for a step-by-step guide to skim reading? Look no further. Get familiar with the technique that will save you time when it comes to your studies.

Many students panic when they have assignments that require them to read large amounts of information. But panic no more. Here we have a step-by-step guide to skim reading. With this method, you are sure to ace your studies and have time for all your responsibilities.

What is Skim Reading?

Skimming is a type of reading where the aim is to focus on the main ideas only. It’s a great way to absorb information if you have little time on your hands. 

Should You Skim Read?

Skim reading is best when you are looking for very specific information. Don’t use it as an easy way out. That being said, you should NOT skim read when you have to study for exams. It isn’t an effective way to study. Need to delve into Shakespeare’s plays and poetry for your matric English exams? Then skimming is not the technique you need. 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Skim Reading

Students often make the mistake of believing they have to read and understand every academic text they come across. The truth is that there’s no way you’ll be able to read two 300-page books in time to submit your essay due for next week. So what happens now, you ask? We’re here to help you out with a step-by-step guide to skim reading.

Know What Information you Need   

To skim read effectively, you need to know what you are looking to find out. This involves paying attention to what information your lecturer says is important to focus on. Studying an educare course and have to write an essay about toddlers? Well then you know to skip past any text that discusses babies or school children. 

Look out for Visual and Verbal Cues

Keep your eyes open for any pictures or keywords that are relevant to your topic. If you don’t find any, you can move on to the next book or article. Here’s what to pay attention to:

  • Introduction
  • Conclusion
  • Table of contents
  • Index
  • Bold words
  • All headings 
  • Pictures
  • Graphs or charts
  • Summaries or questions at the end of the chapter
Guy smiling while reading his laptop. A Step-By-Step Guide to Skim Reading

Read Horizontally and Vertically

This involves moving your eyes up and down just as much as you move them side-to-side. Doing so helps you get a preview of what information you’ll be reading next. It also gives you an idea of whether or not it’s useful to keep reading the rest of the article.  

Think Like the Author

Take a look at the title of the book or article you’re meant to read. Then put yourself in the author’s shoes for a minute. What main point are they trying to prove and how do they go about doing it? Most authors follow a very specific writing recipe: they make a statement, explain it and then provide examples. This helps you separate the important information. 

Skip Examples

Authors use examples to help them prove a point. Sometimes this proof comes in the form of quotes, stories or statistics. If you’re 100% sure you understand their point, you can skip over these examples to save time. 

Use Your Previous Knowledge

Using what you already know about a topic helps prevent you from wasting your time by re-reading familiar information. If your child psychology course taught you all about how toddlers develop, you don’t have to read it again. 

Take Notes

It’s a good idea to make notes while skim reading. After each section, you should write a summary (in your own words) made up of three sentences maximum. This way you can make sure you understand the text. It is also a great way to help your brain think critically about what you’ve just read. 

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Last Updated: June 2, 2022

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tamsyn Gallie
Tamsyn Gallie
Tamsyn Gallie is a Junior Content Writer at Skills Academy. Her aim is to create content that is well-researched, educational and engaging. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, baking and anything that allows her to be creative. She is passionate about lifelong learning and believes it’s never too late to learn something new.