Shortcut: Becoming a Strategic Reader

Before you get started

First of all, look at the title. What does it tell you about what you are going to read? What do you already know about this?



Skimming is a strategy you can use to find the main idea of a text. When you skim, you do not stop to read every word.

First, look at illustrations. They are a strong hint at what the text is going to be about.

If the article has sub-headings, read each one. Also read the first sentence of each paragraph.


bus stop x Scanning

Scanning is a type of reading we use when we are looking for specific information. Scanning is a strategy you already use several times a day. For example, you scan when you look over the titles of all the films in the newspaper to find out where the film you want to see is showing and at what time.

Another example: If you need to find out the names of American presidents who were killed, you would quickly scan the articles until you found the words killed or assassinated. You would know that the information you are looking for is going to be nearby


Close reading

Yet another way of reading is close reading. If you need to understand a text fully, for example before a test, you use this strategy. 

When you read a text closely, you can look up words you don't understand in a dictionary. It is even better if you try to understand new words from the context they are in, for example, the other words in the sentence. Taking notes from the text is part of this strategy.

Recipe for reading textbook articles

When you read textbook articles, it is important to use the right reading skills to understand the main idea of the text, find specific facts and remember the important information over time. Here is a recipe:

  1. Start off by skimming the article to get the main idea. Read the title and sub-headings. Connect them to what you already know about the topic.
  2. Then close read the text under each subheading. Take notes.
  3. After close reading the entire article, quickly look over your notes to review what you have read. Review your notes for just a few minutes once or twice a week following your reading. Then you will be able to understand and remember the material.



  1. What should you do before reading?
  2. When do we skim texts??
  3. What should you look at when skimming?
  4. What is the purpose of scanning?
  5. What do you look for when scanning?
  6. What is the purpose of close reading?
  7. What does it mean to look at "the context" of a word?