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Skimming and Scanning

Published on June 18, 2018

How are skimming and scanning different?

Skimming is reading quickly to find the general overview of the passage

Scanning is reading quickly to find specific details within the passage.

What are some skimming techniques?

Always think about the title, headings, and topic sentences of reading passages, as they are the main ideas. Always read the major parts such as the titles and headings carefully when you are skimming a reading passage. The main idea of entire readings, sections, or paragraphs of reading passages should become clear when doing this.

Reading either the first sentence, or the first and last sentence of a paragraph is another great skimming technique. The first and/or last sentence of a paragraph will provide enough information about the general overview of a paragraph for the most part. Heading match and title match questions are easier to answer when using this technique.

For example, get the main idea of the paragraphs by reading the first and last sentence:


A
There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world - and the number is rising by more than 40 million each year.

This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.

B
While emissions from new cars are far less harmful than they used to be, city streets and motorways are becoming more crowded than ever, often with older trucks, buses and taxis which emit excessive levels of smoke and fumes.

In Mexico City, vehicle pollution is a major health hazard.

C
Until a hundred years ago, most journeys were in the 20km range, the distance conveniently accessible by horse.

Can it avoid being locked into congested and polluting ways of transporting people and goods?

D
In Europe most cities are still designed for the old modes of transport.

Other social effects have been blamed on the car such as alienation and aggressive human behaviour.

E
A 1993 study by the European Federation for Transport and Environment found that car transport is seven times as costly as rail travel in terms of the external social costs it entails - congestion, accidents, pollution, loss of cropland and natural habitats, depletion of oil resources, and so on.

It is unrealistic to expect people to give up private cars in favour of mass transit.

F
Technical solutions can reduce the pollution problem and increase the fuelled efficiency of engines.

Besides, global car use is increasing at a faster rate than the improvement in emissions and fuel efficiency which technology is now making possible.

G
Some argue that the only long-term solution is to design cities and neighbourhoods so that car journeys are not necessary - all essential services being located within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport.

But few democratic communities are blessed with the vision – and the capital – to make such profound changes in modern lifestyles.

H
A more likely scenario seems to be a combination of mass transit systems for travel into and around cities, with small ‘low emission’ cars for urban use and larger hybrid or lean burn cars for use elsewhere.

In most developing countries, old cars and old technologies continue to predominate.


Reading the introduction and conclusion of a reading passage is one skimming technique when doing questions like a title match. This will allow you to get the main idea of the reading passage.

In order to get the general overview of the reading passage, read the first and last paragraph.


A
There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world - and the number is rising by more than 40 million each year. The average distance driven by car users is growing too - from 8 km a day per person in western Europe in 1965 to 25 km a day in 1995. This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.

H
A more likely scenario seems to be a combination of mass transit systems for travel into and around cities, with small ‘low emission’ cars for urban use and larger hybrid or lean burn cars for use elsewhere. Electronically tolled highways might be used to ensure that drivers pay charges geared to actual road use. Better integration of transport systems is also highly desirable - and made more feasible by modern computers. But these are solutions for countries which can afford them. In most developing countries, old cars and old technologies continue to predominate.


For the full article, click here. Read the paragraphs and/or the article as a whole and compare your thoughts on the main idea.

What are some scanning techniques?

Key words are most important when scanning. When scanning a text, vocabulary such are proper nouns, dates, numbers, and times is what you are looking for. Specific details can also be found when using scanning techniques.

When scanning a reading passage, it is most important that you know the key words in the question so that you can find the key words in the reading passage.

When looking for specific details, there are different ways to scan a reading passage. Here are some examples:

You can follow your finger or a pen/pencil in order to create better scanning techniques. Circling or underlining the key words within the reading passage is another good option to consider.

Highlight all of the key words in the paragraph:


A
There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world - and the number is rising by more than 40 million each year. The average distance driven by car users is growing too - from 8 km a day per person in western Europe in 1965 to 25 km a day in 1995. This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.


Here are the suggestions:


A
There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world - and the number is rising by more than 40 million each year. The average distance driven by car users is growing too - from 8 km a day per person in western Europe in 1965 to 25 km a day in 1995. This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.


You can find sample questions relating to this passage here. To help you complete the questions, use skimming and scanning techniques.

In order to help you decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the reading section of the IELTS test, you need to practice using skimming and scanning techniques.