Nowadays information can be taken in through an ever-increasing variety of media: newspapers, magazines, hoardings, flyers, blogs, phone messages, web chat, online posts, dictionaries, brochures, and so on. And the end result? Most of us are forced to deal with an endless stream of content in our daily lives, in both electronic and print form. However, the way we read these texts differs.
For starters, why we read is not always the same. Sometimes we read to gain information, at other times we do so for sheer pleasure. Understandably, WHY we read something influences HOW we read it. Another factor worth considering is writing style: the tone of a novel is quite different to that of a research paper, which means we change our reading style depending on what we are reading.
In an exam situation – for example, the IELTS Reading test – it is important that candidates use various sub-skills to read different texts efficiently.
When we skim, we read a text very quickly to form an overall idea of the content. In other words, we move our eyes rapidly over the text to get an overview of it. While skimming, the reader:
- reads just content words ‒ nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs, which generally give us the most important information in a passage.
- takes a quick look at the heading and subheadings to understand how they are connected.
- does not stop to ponder over the meaning of individual words or phrases.
So how easy or difficult is this technique? It may not seem all that simple at the beginning, but learners get better at using this skill with practice. Of course, once you master skimming, you may be able to go through about 700 to 1000 words per minute and obtain an overview of it all.
And that’s exactly the kind of ability that will help you perform better in a reading test.
Look out for Part 2 for more tips and skills to help improve your reading.
|Meaning||:||to highlight the first in a list of reasons|
|Example||:||We are facing many problems – for starters, we don’t have enough staff.|
|Meaning||:||complete or total|
|Example||:||Watching their daughter take her first few steps was sheer joy for Mathew and Lisa.|
|Example||:||Crime figures in some parts of the world are increasing rapidly.|
|Meaning||:||an outline of something|
|Example||:||Our research provides an overview of the challenges faced by today’s youth.|
|ponder (over something)|
|Meaning||:||to carefully think about something|
|Example||:||Minnie spent hours pondering over her father’s comments about her career.|
|Meaning||:||to learn how to do something extremely well|
|Example||:||He still hasn’t mastered the skill of passing the ball to his teammates accurately.|