Practical Reading Techniques: Skimming and Scanning

Reading is always an essential skill to develop when learning English online. However, different situations would call for other reading techniques. Sometimes, our reading goals would also dictate the kind of reading we need to do.

Generally speaking, we read for two reasons: for pleasure and for work or study. Different purposes for reading would dictate the type of reading technique we would use, as there are different sets of expectations from us as readers. However, there are also instances when we need to read through a text as quickly as possible – this is especially true for many situations in the real world or outside the learner’s English online classes.

This is where skimming and scanning reading techniques come in handy. Are you familiar with these speed reading techniques? Let’s look at the different situations wherein we need to skim or scan a text and improve our speed reading skills.


Skimming is a speed reading technique used whenever we need to get the entire text’s main idea. When you skim a text, you are not after the details or examples given, but rather, you are looking at what the whole text is all about.

We typically skim long texts for us to get a better idea of the entire chapter or article. Skimming is especially helpful whenever we need to read long texts in a short period of time. When learning English online, we usually skim different texts as part of our classes.

How To Skim Texts

To skim a text, start by reading the first paragraph entirely. Often, the main idea of articles is given in the introduction. Next, move on to the first two sentences of the paragraphs, as topic sentences are usually placed at the beginning of a paragraph. As you read the paragraphs in the text’s body, you can also begin to pick up important details such as names, dates, and terminologies which are repeated in the succeeding sections. Read the last paragraph in its entirety, as closing paragraphs often summarise the entire text’s essential ideas.


Scanning is another speed reading technique that is useful for people who are learning English online. When we can, we read a text quickly to search for specific information or answer a particular question. When scanning, we disregard the other details in the text and its main idea, which is not part of our goal. 

An excellent example of scanning texts is whenever we need to look up the meaning of a word in the dictionary. When we do, we don’t have to go through the other words in the text to locate the definition of a specific word. However, we can also scan different types of texts, not just dictionaries and reference materials.

How To Scan

When scanning a text, our eyes need to move quickly across the paragraphs. You can use your index finger to guide you in looking for specific information on the page. In most cases (especially when studying), scanning the text first is necessary before getting the text’s essential details. You can also highlight this information so that you can quickly go back to it later on. This technique is handy when learning English online and taking English tests, such as IELTS.

Improving Skimming and Scanning Techniques

The best way to improve your speed reading techniques is to practice. Reading is a skill, and we need to practice it to get better at it. You don’t expect to be good at riding a bike at the get-go, right? That’s the same when learning English language skills. You may read articles online or in print. You can also take advantage of Anglia Education’s digital library. Boasting thousands of e-books from philosophy to business topics, Anglia Education’s digital library is an excellent start to flexing your reading muscle. 

Anglia Education can also help you improve your reading skills through our AI-powered courses online. The classes are designed to be fun yet challenging enough to get you motivated to learn English online. 

Whether it is skimming or scanning or any reading technique, Anglia Education can help improve your reading skills.


Read our other helpful blogs on learning English online here.



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