Make Your Next Self-Study Session More Productive!

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Is Skim Reading Bad? (an honest answer)

In short, skim reading is not bad. It does depend on when you use it. Skim reading is a method for selective reading. This means you only read certain parts of a page or chapter. The result of it is you probably do not see everything that could be important. This means that when you want to study in detail, you have to do more than skim reading.

When you are not familiar with a text you can use skim reading. You quickly scan or skim the text and learn what the general idea is. Highlight or mark sections that are important to you. After that, you read the selected parts to learn more.

This is a very important risk to skim reading. More and more people use skim reading. They scan a text and look for interesting ideas. There is a lot of bias involved in this. You only focus on the parts that help you confirm what you are looking for. Reading this way you will not grow in knowledge and learn new things. You will often see the things that strengthen your opinion. And is that what you should be doing when studying (or reading)?

The Goal Of Reading

When you read, you (should) have a goal. For most learners, this is to study a book to pass an exam. This means that you have to expand your knowledge. You learn new things and you grow. Reading is the method you use to “download” the text from the book into your brain.

Is your goal is to read a book to pass an exam? You have to take in most of the information in that book. You can skip, scan, or skim parts only when you have enough prior knowledge. And the best way to know that is by reading.

That doesn’t mean you have to read the entire book before you know what you lack in information. You can of course skim through a few pages to know if you understand the content and direction of that text.

Have a goal when opening a book. This helps you to know if you can skim-read or go deep into it.

 Is It Good To Skim Read?

Most people use skim-reading methods already. They scan web pages for interesting pieces. They skim large texts to find useful parts. Skim reading helps you to decide what you should read.

Always keep in mind that you are skimming not only for confirmation of your ideas or thoughts. You use this reading method to get a general idea of a text. After that, take a deep dive into the text. There is nothing wrong with skim reading this way. It will most likely save you a lot of time! You don’t have to focus on the information you know already.

How Much Time Do You Have?

When you have all the time in the world, you can use all that time to read books. Since most people have more to do than reading, you created skim reading. By reading this way, you can go through a lot of information. Focus on headlines, words that pop from the page, and images.

According to Maryanne Wolf, skim reading is the new normal reading. We all do it and we benefit from it. 

Even if you have a lot of time to start skim-reading, it will decrease reading time and improve comprehension.

Why is Skimming A Useful Reading Strategy?

As said before, skimming is a very useful method to get a general idea about a text in the least time. But skim reading is much more than that!

We can identify 3 ways of skimming. The first one is to preview a text. You go over the text to get an idea of what the text is about. The second method is to overview a section of your text. You already decided that you have to read it. Now skim it to know where the author is taking you. The last method is reviewing. You read the text. You took some notes. Now you go over the text one more time. Did you miss anything? If so… read it again and add it to your notes.

scan before you read

This means that the next time you will read a chapter in your (study) book, you do this:

  • You skim-read the text. This helps you identify important and new ideas. Mark these sections
  • With a good idea of the text in mind, you focus on the parts that are important to you. Is everything new and important… you read everything
  • After you read, you go back and see if you missed pieces. If so, re-read. If not… you are done for now!
  • Up until your exam, you go back to the text. Re-read to re-activate the information in your head. If you’ve forgotten parts, go back into the text and learn more.

A smart and efficient reader uses skim reading as part of his reading strategy or routine. Start using this as well. You will benefit so much from it!

Conclusion

Skim reading isn’t bad. It is actually a very good way to familiarize yourself with a text. It helps you to identify what you should read and what is important. Don’t skim-read a text and pat yourself on the back because you can read so fast! Become a smart reader. One skims a text to get a good idea and then uses skim reading to identify if the notes are complete.

The Productive

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