Video: Skimming skills
Video: Skimming skills

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Skimming can be a difficult skill to master because most people try to say the words to themselves as they read. This will slow down your reading speed to only as fast as you can speak. In order to skim effectively, you need to practice not saying every word, but to keep moving your eyes down the text and not get sidetracked with details. You should try to skim in blocks, not individual words. For example, in this sentence, you should skim by glancing only three times. Here, here and here. Your aim is to notice any repetition of words or ideas and to get a general feeling for what the text is about. When you first start practicing, you may find that you skim and have very little idea what it was really about.

Don’t feel that the technique is not working – with practice you will improve. Don’t be tempted to simply slow down so you can understand more. It is better to skim, then skim again if you really feel you didn’t understand. Practice by spending about 15 minutes a day skimming different texts, reading faster than a speed that feels ‘comfortable’. Remember that you are only trying to get a general idea of the text. Use the BBC website link on the course home page to practice. Skim the text then write a short sentence describing what you think it is about. Then read it more closely to see whether you were correct. You will get plenty of practice to improve your reading speed and skimming skills throughout this course. There is also more practice on increasing your reading speed in the speed reading lesson. In the next presentation you will practice your own skimming skills.

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