Reading for General Knowledge

Skimming can help you to work quickly through material that is background to your essay, provides a general overview of the topic, or, on the other hand, is more peripheral material, Most readers skim without realizing it. Before you decide to skim, determine your purpose, just as you would before you read for detailed understanding.

Skimming will enable you to get the gist of a reading without noting all its supporting details. This works for a text that provides an overview of your topic or provides useful information in only one particular section or in a few paragraphs here and there, or a book chapter that contains nothing new but a few details or is by an author who is too prominent in the field to be left out. Most readers skim through articles or chapters using the following steps:

      1.       Skim the introductory paragraph(s) to establish the author’s thesis or locate the thesis statement.


      2.       Read the first sentence or two of each paragraph to give you the main idea of the paragraph. Together, these should show the pattern of thesis development.

      3.       Let your eyes scan the paragraphs noting names, dates, and numbers to fill in one or two details.


      4.       Read the concluding sentence of each paragraph, especially if you do not yet have a fairly clear idea of the paragraph.

      5.       To remember what you have skimmed, make a brief three- or  four-sentence note describing the essence of the article and  what is most relevant to your essay.


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