The power of skim reading Follow blog

bernicestockstill Bernice Stockstill Firstly, you need to develop the art of skim reading. It’s not something I’ve ever been taught, and I’m not sure it’s something that can be taught – it’s more something which you gradually pick up over time. However, I know you probably want to be able to give it a go now, so I will explain the basics of what it involves.
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Skim Reading

Essentially, skim reading means gathering the basic meaning of a text without reading it properly. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the main threads of discussion without having to sit down and take it all in fully. Say you’ve got a textbook in front of you, and you’re trying to find out information on a certain topic for an essay. Clearly, your first port of call will be the index or the contents page, and between them these will probably point you to a certain chapter or section. But you don’t want to have to wade through twenty or thirty pages just to get to the few paragraphs relevant to your essay. So what do you do? You skim read.

How to skim read

The way I would normally do this is to:

  • Skim through the pages looking for main headings;
  • Skim through the subheadings for ones related to your topic;
  • Check the paragraph under each heading to see if they are relevant (if the heading doesn’t provide an obvious hint as to the topic)
  • Glance at diagrams, graphs and pictures to see if they relate to your theme;
  • Skip forward to the ‘conclusion’ part of sections to see what the main findings are.

The key with skim reading is not to take in every word and sentence. Some people can find this difficult at first – it can take a while to master, especially if your normal reading speed isn’t too fast – but just try to let your eyes scan through the text and pick out key words. Only if you see something that looks useful should you slow down and take the time to read the relevant sentence or paragraph.


For example custom paper writing service has a ‘search within essay’ feature. You can’t browse every page of every publication, but it can still provide a useful way of finding an extra quote or two when you don’t have access to a particular book.

By using skim reading, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to do research for your essay. An average book chapter or journal article will take at least half an hour to thoroughly read through from front to back – and more if you try to understand everything that comes up. For a good essay, you’re going to want to use at least a dozen references – which explains why some people will spend weeks on end doing nothing but reading and making notes. By using skim reading you can quickly discard articles of no use, meaning that your time spent in front of books is rapidly reduced, and incredibly efficient.

Dec. 27, 2018, 4:18 p.m. 0 Report Embed 0