Advancing your Reading Skills towards a TOEFL Examination-Part 3

Skimming is also speed reading, but this time you are reading for gist, which means that you will have to read the whole article, chapter, or passage you are interested in to gain a general impression of the facts or ideas contained. You are not necessarily searching for specific information, but it is important to note a few key words or phrases to gather a better overview of the text.

For instance, when we read the plot of a movie we are considering, we quickly go through the review (which is in a way a summary in itself) leaving nothing out, paying equal attention to all parts of the story (we are not scanning). If it is a well written piece, we are soon able to decide whether we want to watch the movie or not.

Skimming is the correct reading method for answering your overall Comprehension questions together with completing your précis, summary, or abridgment writing exercises.

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As an example, please read the following text:

” .. the obnoxious way that Keith was treating his wife made her lose all sense of reality, especially when she was alone in her thoughts , the sounds of the wind, the sea and the screeches of gulls being her only company. Jane really had no memories of better times other than the wedding picture hung on the wall, although sometimes she just couldn’t tell if the man in the picture was really her husband. Isolated from the rest of the world, the lighthouse felt more than a prison that home.”

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Now answer the following question:
Jane is: a.in prison b. unhappy c. insane d. lonely
The correct answer is b. Can you see why?

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Skimming a piece of writing you must:

  • Initially give all parts of the passage equal attention.
  • Note the key points that can help you get the gist.
  • Try to ignore excessive or irrelevant details.
  • Read the concluding paragraph in full.
  • Remember that time is always a factor.

AG