different reading techniques and when to use them

One of the first things you learn about teaching is that there are different reading techniques and the students should be aware of which technique is most suited, depending on the reading task required by the text or by their teacher.

Training students to know the different reading techniques and when to use them is very important, especially under exam conditions when time constraints come into play and students need to have faster reading, learning and memory skills.

The four main types of reading techniques are the following:

  • Skimming
  • Scanning
  • Intensive
  • Extensive


Different Reading Techniques And When To Use Them

Skimming is sometimes referred to as gist reading where you’re trying to glance over the material to grasp the main idea.

The way you do this is to read the first and last paragraph and check for any dark headings. 

different reading techniques

Skimming may help in order to know what the text is about at its most basic level.

You might typically do this with a magazine or newspaper and would help you mentally and quickly shortlist those articles which you might consider for a deeper read.

You might skim to search for a name in a telephone directory.

You can reach a speed count of even 700 words per minute if you train yourself well in this particular method.

There are unique courses with speed reading that will show you how to use both traditional and hi-tech speed reading methods and this is the one I recommend.

Skimming Saves You Time 

Different Reading Techniques And When To Use ThemSkimming will certainly save you a lot of time as you grasp the main idea of whatever you are reading, but do not expect your comprehension to be high during the process.

However, skimming is useful when your goal is to preview the text to get a better idea of what it’s about. It will help prepare you for deeper learning.

As learning expert and author Pat Wyman says in her online course, How to Read a Book in a Day and Remember It, skimming is a terrific idea to get an overview and mental picture in your mind which will help improve your memory.

This strategy makes it much easier to recall what you’re about to read.

  1. Take a look at the table of contents first.
  2. Review the subheadings in each chapter
  3. Quicky read the first paragraph in that section
  4. Check out anything in your text that is in bold or italics
  5. If there is a chapter summary, now is a good time read it over.

This completely prepares your brain to have an overview of what this chapter is about.

You can then go on to use scanning to find specific important ideas.


Different Reading Techniques And When To Use ThemPicture yourself visiting a historical city, guide book in hand.

You would most probably just scan the guide book to see which site you might want to visit.

Scanning involves getting your eyes to quickly scuttle across sentence and is used to get just a simple piece of information. You’ll be searching for specific words or phrases that will give you more information and answer questions you may have.

Interestingly, research has concluded that reading off a computer screen actually inhibits the pathways to effective scanning and thus, reading of paper is far more conducive to speedy comprehension of texts.

Something students sometimes do not give enough importance to is illustrations.

These should be included in your scanning. Pay special attention to the introduction and the conclusion.

Intensive Reading

Different Reading Techniques And When To Use ThemYou need to have your aims clear in mind when undertaking intensive reading

Remember this is going to be far more time consuming than scanning or skimming.

If you need to list the chronology of events in a long passage, you will need to read it intensively.

This type of reading has indeed beneficial to language learners as it helps them understand vocabulary by deducing the meaning of words in context.

It moreover, helps with retention of information for long periods of time and knowledge resulting from intensive reading persists in your long term memory.

This is one reason why reading huge amounts of information just before an exam does not work very well.

Students tend to do this, and they undertake neither type of reading process effectively, especially neglecting intensive reading.

They may remember the answers in an exam but will likely forget everything soon afterwards.

Extensive reading

Extensive reading involves reading for pleasure.

Because there is an element of enjoyment in extensive reading it is unlikely that students will undertake extensive reading of a text they do not like.

It also requires a fluid decoding and assimilation of the text and content in front of you.

If the text is difficult and you stop every few minutes to figure out what is being said or to look up new words in the dictionary, you are breaking your concentration and diverting your thoughts.

different reading techniques

Is the ability to learn and assimilate information also genetic?

Different Reading Techniques And When To Use ThemIt is not uncommon for people to associate intelligent or bright kids with their equally intelligent parents.

Often children of parents who have a profession appear to be more intelligent.

However, it is important to note first and foremost, that academic intelligence is only one form of intelligence and even a university professor who scores high on academic intelligence, might be the most impractical person, finding it difficult to pragmatically solve problems to simple everyday tasks.

The notion of intelligence is an extremely complex and diverse one and to pin it into just a single word means whipping out the multitude of connotations and meanings that it actually embodies.

Scientists have found no plausible relationship between our genes and our ability to learn or our intelligence.

There is no genetic DNA test that can predict intelligence because intelligence is due to your environment. It is likely that children with parents who exercise a profession appear more intelligent because their parents directly or directly encourage it.

Different Reading Techniques and When to Use Them

Use these tips for skimming and scanning to help enhance all your reading and especially when you are studying for an exam and now you know how access different reading techniques and when to use them.

Karl McDonald is a free lance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics.

The author regularly contributes informative and/or scientific articles to a number of blogs and info sites.


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