Even if it seems that there is a thin line that distinguishes, for example, scan reading from skimming, in reality these two activities serve entirely different purposes, both separately and combined.
Scan Reading is in the category of speed reading, a skill that is acquired after quite a lot of reading, and requires constant practice. Scan reading (also referred to as scanning) means that you rapidly cover a piece of writing in order to locate a specific fact or piece of information. Scanning should not be confused with browsing, which is an entirely different thing, and is by no means creative reading.
Browsing mainly concerns newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and books. You browse through a magazine or newspaper, just glancing at the headlines or pictures, until you find an article that interests you or draws your attention. Surfing on the Internet is the modern version of browsing.
Only when you find the piece of writing that interests you does the scanning begin. Your goal is to find what you are looking for without reading the entire text, so you should hold the idea in your mind throughout the whole reading procedure.
Scan reading is the appropriate tool for your Reading Comprehension exercises. You are given a passage followed by questions (usually the multiple choice type). It helps to start by analyzing the structure of the passage and going through the questions so that you can find keywords that will help your scanning.
- If the passage is fairly brief and concise, you may only need to scan the passage once.
- Anticipate locating the parts you need by keeping your key words in mind.
- When you find the sentences that contain the information you seek, read them through in context.
- Concentrate on answering the questions and remember that you have a limited amount of time to complete the task.
- Always complete multiple choice questions even if you are not certain of the answer.