A Reading Comprehension Technique

for Elementary EFL learners, by MF (2014, 2015)

In every Revise & Check there is a Reading Test. Please, practice this technique, even if you think you don’t need it because it’s easy.

Skimming and Scanning

  1. Read the instructions while you underline key words. (What’s your mission? How should you answer?)
  2. Read the text fast, including the title! (Skimming.) Don’t stop, read fast. This will activate your background knowledge. The process is unconscious, so you don’t need to think or understand. Just do it.
  3. Read the questions carefully, while you underline key words. (Words that will help you to remember what the question is about!)
  4. Scan the text. This reading will take you longer. Try to understand everything. Your eyes will move to your underlined words in the questions, so you can write the number of the question in the margin of the text, in the area where the answer is! Try to locate the area in the text for the answers. If after some time, you still don’t understand something, move on (you’ll solve it in the second scanning). First you need to answer the easy questions, to make sure you have some marks!
  5. Answer the easy questions. (Asegúrate unos puntos!)
  6. Scan the text a second time: doublecheck the easy questions and then solve the hard questions.
  7. Write down your new answers.

You should practice this tecnique with every reading comprehension exercise, especially the one in the unit test.

Remember to time (cronometrar) your Skimming, your Scanning 1 and your Scanning 2. This is very important for learning something about exams, too, so please do it! We’ll talk about it later on.


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