Skimming and scanning are necessary skills for speed reading in the PTE academic reading section. These skills enable you to quickly get what you need (the important information) from a text, which saves you time.
Skimming means quickly looking for the main ideas in a text. You don’t read everything, word for word, just what is important according to your purpose of reading.
What do you read, then, and what do you leave out?
- Read the first few lines of the passage (the introduction) so you know what the topic is about.
- Read the first sentence of each paragraph to get the main idea contained in each paragraph. Note, you may need to read more than one sentence to get the main idea.
- The last paragraph of the passage contains a summary or conclusion. There will be no new ideas there, so there is no need to skim it. You should read it all.
To sum up, skimming helps you to quickly find important information in articles and texts, which helps you to use your test time wisely.
It can be used when preparing for your test too, such as when you have to review a lot of practice material.
Skimming is a technique we all use when reading in daily life, for example when reading newspapers and we don’t have time or don’t want to read every article in full.
When scanning a text you look for specific details or bits of information without reading the entire text.
As with skimming, the purpose of scanning is to maximize your time. We also scan when reading in daily life, like when looking for sports scores in the newspaper, or times and dates in the TV guide, or data in the financial section.
In the PTE reading section, the text can be arranged in different ways, so it is important to know how the information is structured. For example, it might be arranged alphabetically, or chronologically.
Once you know how the passage is structured it is easy to find what you need — the specific bits of information, such as data, that you are scanning for.
To help you find information and answers quickly when doing your PTE, you will need to use skimming and scanning techniques.
Obviously, having enough time is crucial for your test, so you must learn these methods and practice using them before your test!