How to Skim What You Read

Use skimming techniques to get the general textbook message.
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When you want to get the general idea of a chapter of a textbook, but you lack enough time to read through every word, try to skim through the material. The skimming method lets you look over the material so you can get a general feel for it. Skimming helps you pay attention to the important words in the text. If you have time to read it again, you will focus on the important information and not waste time with less important details.

Look at the title, subheadings, pictures, diagrams and whatever else stands out on the page. Turn the subheadings into questions in your mind. For example, if the subheading states "Bleeding Kansas," ask yourself, "What is bleeding Kansas?" Then, read to find the answer. This method helps you to identify the important information on the page.

Read the first and last paragraphs of the chapter in full. These paragraphs introduce and wrap up the chapter, and because of this they often contain key information that can be important to remember.

Read the first sentence of each paragraph. Try to restate what you read in your own words. You can either write it down or say it out loud. This reiteration will implant the subject material you are skimming in your head.

Read words, sentences or phrases in bold or italic type. These words and terms usually are important to understand and remember.

Try to read the text quickly, but pay attention to what you pick up in the process. Focus on the nouns and verbs. These are considered key words and will help you in getting a general sense of what the author is discussing.

  • If you reread the material in full after skimming, you should find that the task will go faster than usual.

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.