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Skimming - Will It Improve Your Reading Speed?

Aug 17, 2007
A cornerstone of the ability to speed read is the ability to skim. However, many argue that skimming is in fact cheating - i.e. you're not really reading at all! The following is a brief outline argument in favor of why skimming will improve your reading speed (and ability).

Basically, skimming is the most rudimentary form of reading. The object of skim reading is not to necessarily comprehend all that is being read, but rather to familiarize yourself, as quickly as possible, with the text being read. In this regard, skimming materials, by reading the index, subject headings and sub-headings, allows you to prepare yourself so that when the time comes, you can race ahead and speed read at pace - as you are already familiar with the text. Consequently, your overall reading speed will be vastly improved.

In addition, skimming allows your subconscious the chance to absorb the main ideas of a text. These are later cemented by your speed reading of the contents. The combination of these two methods allows you greater comprehension of what you are reading.

Conversely, if you are reading from cold, there is more chance you'll miss certain points or issues. If you want, think of it as if you are watching a movie for the second time: don't you always see parts of the movie the second time that you didn't see the first, which makes the second viewing all the more relaxing and pleasurable?

How to Skim Read

Having ascertained that skimming will increase our reading speed, we now need to know how to skim read. Whilst there are many different methods adopted to skim reading, the following are the essential elements:

* read the index of a text - note that it is essential that you do this so that you get the general ideal of what the text is about;

* read the introduction paragraph of the text;

* read each heading in the text;

* read each subheading in the text;

* read the first paragraph under each heading and subheading of the text;

* (if you have time) read the first and last line of the first and last paragraph of each page;

* (if you have time) read the first and last line of each independent paragraph;

* read the last paragraph of the text - again, this is very important as it is usually in this section that you'll find all of the main concepts of the text being summarized and concluded.

Moreover, when skimming, try using your peripheral eye vision to identify the main idea of the text, the main dates in the text (especially if the text relates to historical issues), and any illustrations/diagrams/graphs.

Finally, when you are skimming, start at the beginning and read straight through to the end. Do not go back over what you have already read before you have completed the whole text as this will defeat the purpose of your skim reading: in any event, you are going to speed read the text once more after you have completed your skim read!

Remember, skim reading is not intended to replace any reading of the material. Its intention is to familiarize yourself with the text so that you can be fully prepared to review it once again at a later time. In the event that you find yourself with insufficient time to both speed read and skim read a text, you should not confine your reading to a mere skim read as you may find that you miss out on vital pieces of data. Besides this, enjoy your skim reading in the comfort of knowing it will enable you to increase your overall reading speed!
About the Author
Melvin Ng teaches speed reading through his 16-Minute Speed Reading Audio Program
which Guarantees to Double your reading speed in just 16 minutes! http://www.best-speed-reading-course.com
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