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