Skimming: The Reading Technique That Saves You Time

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Skimming, if done correctly, turns out to be very useful because it makes your study extremely faster and more functional. Is it true or not that when you study you tend to think that information is all equally important? Or that to get a good grade you need to know exactly everything the book says?

In reality, neither of the two statements is strictly true. We discovered that the information contained within a book is not all at the same level because there is only 20% of the things that are asked 80% of the time. To pass the exam discreetly, therefore, it would be enough for you to know that 20% which is the hardcore of the topic, the basic and fundamental concepts to know.

With skimming, you operate a reading of the text in search of specific elements that allow you to reconstruct a general idea of ​​what we are talking about.

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Do Not Use It To Study But To Set Up The Study

According to what has been said so far, therefore skimming is not a technique to be used for the actual study, because as we have seen it is an indicative, summary, strategic reading in a certain sense, made specifically to extrapolate from your text the guidelines. So, you can’t just base your preparation on skimming.

But it is ideal for setting up the study and therefore speeding it up. In fact, by skimming your book, the first thing you do is find the essential information, and then above all, you throw away everything you don’t need. Its goal is basically to get you to start studying on the right foot.

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Through this technique, you go to acquire what is fundamental information and understand how they are distributed and how they connect. When your brain understands this structure, you are more encouraged to deepen the topics, and to connect new information to what you already know. And this is how the perfecting of your preparation starts, the real study phase in which you deepen things and do it at an incredible speed!

But How Is Skimming Done?

Now let’s see how to carry out skimming concretely and be able to study well and quickly. Spoiler: You don’t start reading from the front page like a rocket.

It Starts From The Index

Open the book at the index. Look at it and study it carefully: identify the main chapters and sub-chapters, identify the titles, distinguish the more general and more specific topics, and observe how they fit together.

Using the index, you create a general overview of your book. You can take 10, or 20 minutes, it depends on the text you are in front of. Once that’s done, you move on to the first chapter.

Let’s Move On To The Chapter

Now that you are here, if there are any, look at the maps of the beginning and end of the chapter (which unfortunately are not always present in all books). Through them, you can again have a “top view” of the information.

Then read the titles of the paragraphs well to understand what are the topics that will be addressed in the chapter.

Then The Paragraphs

Read the first paragraph in full. The other pages of the chapter look at them quickly, making your gaze scroll quickly and naturally in search of elements that attract attention, such as bolds, italics, images, and particular writings. Dwell on what you find, but if your eye sees nothing, go on without wasting time.

At the end of the chapter, read the last paragraph in full. While it might seem odd to you, this chapter-reading tactic makes sense as each book is made up of a premise, a course, and a conclusion. The premise and the conclusion are the parts where notoriously the gist of the concept tends to concentrate.

So, proceed like this for all the chapters and sub-chapters you come across, highlighting the bolds, the images, the titles next to the paragraphs, etc.

Is This Really Working?

By approaching the reading of the text in this way with skimming you can go into the chapters and understand the structure of the topics and concepts. So much so that if at the end of the skimming I asked you what the book is about, you would be able to tell me! Of course, your preparation would not be enough to pass an exam, but it certainly provides a solid foundation from which to begin to perfect your preparation.

The even more fantastic thing is that if I asked you to deepen a particular topic, you would already know where to open the book to find it because you would have the structure of the information clear in your head. So, this is the extra edge of skimming, making it easy for you to deepen the concepts.

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About the Author: Brian Novak