Speed reading is not magic

Scanning speed reading

Scanning is the first thing that you do when you select a resource. It answers the question: -
Is this the right resource to help me find the answers to my questions? Will it give me the answers I want?

Scan - by zapping through the whole resource homing in on the important bits.
Scan before you start skimming.
Scanning gives you a feeling for the whole item.

Think about:

  • Is it relevant?
  • Is there any thing in it that answers the target questions?

Look at:

  • Title page.
  • The contents page. Are there chapters or sections that you may want to read?

Are there maps, diagrams, pictures, captions? Do they look as if they would be helpful? Scanning involves running your eyes down the page looking for specific facts or key words and phrases.


You already use scanning

Recall how you find a word in a vocabulary? You don't read any more than necessary to find the word you seek. Notice that you go directly down a column. Maybe you use your finger to guide your eyes. This type of reading is usually called scanning.

Scanning is a technique you often use when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. You search for key words or ideas. In most cases, you know what you're looking for, so you're concentrating on finding a particular answer. Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases. Scanning is also used when you first find a resource to determine whether it will answer your questions. Once you've scanned the document, you might go back and skim it.

When scanning, look for the author's use of organizers such as numbers, letters, steps, or the words, first, second, or next. Look for words that are bold faced, italics, or in a different font size, style, or color. Sometimes the author will put key ideas in the margin.

Reading off a computer screen has become a growing concern. Research shows that people have more difficulty reading off a computer screen than off paper. Although they can read and comprehend at the same rate as paper, skimming on the computer is much slower than on paper.

Similarly, scanning skills are valuable for several purposes in studying science. First, they are an aid in locating new terms, which are introduced in the chapter. Unless you understand the new terms, it is impossible to follow the author's reasoning without dictionary or glossary. Thus a preliminary scanning of the chapters will alert you to the new terms and concepts and their sequence. When you locate a new term, try to find its definition. If you are not able to figure out the meaning, then look it up in the glossary or dictionary. (Note: usually new terms are defined as they are introduced in science texts. If your text does not have a glossary, it is a good idea to keep a glossary of your own in the front page of the book. Record the terms and their definition or the page number where the definition is located. This is an excellent aid to refer to when you are reviewing for an examination, as it provides a convenient outline of the course).

Secondly, scanning is useful in locating statements, definitions, formulas, etc. which you must remember completely and precisely. Scan to find the exact and complete statement of a chemical law., the formula of a particular compound in chemistry, or the stages of cell division. Also, scan the charts and figures, for they usually summarize in graphic form the major ideas and facts of the chapter.


Just start

Scan how the page is laid out, and use bold headers and captions to get an overview of the ideas and themes.

  • Use peripheral vision; don't focus only on the logical flow of the text. Observe what you're reading with a wide-angle scope, as if you were looking at an image rather than a block of text. Use the same wide-eye span as you do when driving, looking at all that surrounds you and heading your way.
  • Using the wide-span approach, there are several methods in which you can "read" a page.
      - Read paragraphs diagonally, and place emphasis on the key words.
      - Read the page in a "Z"
      - Read in a "U", moving down the page, and back up.
  • Skim the text by reading the first sentence of each paragraph.
  • Try to speed up your eye movements to take in more per reading, rather than stay fixated and focused on a word.
  • Use the help of your index finger, by moving it at a slightly faster pace than your reading speed. When reading on the Internet, scroll down quicker than you actually read.



What is speed reading.

Speed reading techniques

Speed Reading Software