Scanning means quickly finding some specific information in the text; locating the key words and getting meaning from them. We use this technique in our everyday life when look the word down in the dictionary, look through the phone book or search some specific job among numerous job advertisements.
Scanning skills are important to be used throughout the whole TOEFL exam. Scanning techniques must be used when:
• Your task is to find some specific information in the text;
• You have to explain the meaning of a word;
• Your task is to find a particular fact.
Scanning like skimming involves rapid reading. However, if to skim we read the whole text to get the general idea, to scan we read until we find the necessary word, phrase, or fact.
To improve your scanning skills, you should:
• Keep in mind the word or word combination you need (you may repeat it verbally or non-verbally) while searching it in the text.
• Look for key information or its indicators:
- capital letters of names;
- numbers when date is sought;
- sub-headings as potential clues;
- words in italics, bold face, different font size, style or colour;
- transitional phrases like first, second, then, however, moreover and the like.
• Notice key words and pay attention to where they are repeated or paraphrased.