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Scanning is useful for finding specific pieces of information rather than reading the whole text. It is a strategy that can be combined with other reading strategies to improve your comprehension and critical thinking about a text.

To scan effectively, you must already have an idea of what you are looking for. When you scan a text, you do not read sentences. Instead, you look for key words or phrases, types of information (e.g., statistics, numbers), and answers to specific questions. Scanning is a technique that is useful in several reading and study situations and at all different academic levels from English learning to graduate level studies.

Scan a text to find

  • answers to questions in reading comprehension tests
  •  inclusion and exclusion criteria when conducting a literature review
  • evidence that supports arguments in the text
  • definitions of key words and concepts
  • information that confirms predictions you made while previewing the text

How to Scan - Video