How to Scan Read

Scanning is when you only look for details in the text. This technique allows you to quickly find information in order to answer questions.

You need to skim read first to get a general idea of the text. Then read the questions. After that you are ready to scan the text in order to find specific details.

 

How to Scan

  • Decide what information you need to find in the text. For example, do you need to find a name, a date or maybe a result. To do this, underline key words in questions. Think of synonyms of key words.
  • Use your finger or pencil to quickly go over each line until you find the type of information, the exact word or a synonym which you need.

Exercise 1 | Key Words

You will read a text about pop culture in Japan in the 1980s. First we will look at the questions and decide what the keywords are.

The key words of the question tell you what information you need to find. Look at each question and decide what these words are, then open the question to compare your keywords to ours.

Example: 1. What types of entertainment became popular in the 80s? (3 words)

Key words are in bold: What types of entertainment became popular in the 80s?

We are looking for types of entertainment. The question word is also of course very important.

1. What types of entertainment became popular in the 80s? (3 words)

Key words are in bold: What types of entertainment became popular in the 80s?

2. What year were two Japanese animation magazines started? (4 words)

What year were two Japanese animation magazines started?

3. What American video-game system is mentioned? (4 words)

What American video-game system is mentioned?

4. Who is considered the most important originator of manga? (3 words)

Who is considered the most important originator of manga?

5. Where was Hibari Misora’s last show held? (4 words)

Where was Hibari Misora’s last show held?

We have also underlined the question words above to make it clear what type of information we should be searching for.

  • Who – a person
  • What – a thing or action
  • Where – a place
  • When – a time
  • Why – a reason
  • How – a description

Exercise 2 | Scanning Practice

Scan the text to find details. Don’t worry about not understanding the text or individual items of vocabulary. The important thing is to answer the questions quickly.

See if you can complete this exercise in under 4 minutes.

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Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS and/or a number
1.What types of entertainment became popular in the 80s?
2.What year were two Japanese animation magazines started?
3.What American video-game system is mentioned?
4.Who is considered the most important originator of manga?
5.Where was Hibari Misora’s last show held?

The 1980s saw the firm establishment of anime and manga as major forms of entertainment for the Japanese public. Studio Ghibli, arguably the most famous and respected animation studio in Japan, was established by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki in 1985 following the success of Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Newtype, one of the two major anime industry magazines, was started in 1985 as well.

Examples of Japanese products created and distributed during the 1980s included Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros and classic anime like Astro Boy and Akira. Nintendo Co came of age offering video arcade games and their famous Family Computer (also known as the Famicom) video game system. American-based Atari struggled to compete in Japan as they couldn’t defeat the Sega-Nintendo duopoly in the video arcade realm. Future Japanese game designers would cut their teeth during this era playing 8-bitgames and end up designing video games on much more complicated architectures (systems like the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy). But Japan was indifferent to American pop culture of the 1980s.

Osamu Tezuka, considered the “god of manga” in Japan, died on 9 February 1989. Following Tezuka, Hibari Misora, one of the most popular and best selling female pop artists in Japan, died on 24 June 1989. She had held her last public performance in Kitakyushu in February that same year.

Exercise 3 | More Practice

To get better, the most important thing is to practice often. Let’s practice scanning on a different text.

See if you can complete this exercise in under 3 minutes.

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Elephants on the Okavango by katja from Pixabay

Scan the text for the following information. Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS and/or a number.
1.How much rainfall does the Okavango delta receive per year? mm
2.What is the maximum daytime temperature in the Okavango delta? °C
3.How is the temperature in the evening between March and May?
4.What increases after the cold winter months?
5.Which month is most difficult for tourists to visit the Okavango?

The Climate of the Okavango Delta

The Delta’s profuse greenery is not the result of a wet climate; rather, it is an oasis in an arid country. The average annual rainfall is 450 mm (approximately one third that of its Angolan catchment area) and most of it falls between December and March in the form of heavy afternoon thunderstorms.

December to February are hot wet months with daytime temperatures as high as 40 °C, warm nights, and humidity levels fluctuating between 50 and 80%. From March to May, the temperature becomes far more comfortable with a maximum of 30 °C (86 °F) during the day and mild to cool nights. The rains quickly dry up leading into the dry, cold winter months of June to August. Daytime temperatures at this time of year are mild to warm, but the temperature begins to fall after sunset. Nights can be surprisingly cold in the delta, with temperatures barely above freezing.

The September to November span sees the heat and atmospheric pressure build up once more, as the dry season slides into the rainy season. October is the most challenging month for visitors – daytime temperatures often push to 40 °C and the dryness is only occasionally broken by a sudden cloudburst.

Exam Note

Notice that you need to scan for synonyms of the words in the questions. In the IELTS test the words in the questions and those in the text will be different. This tests your vocabulary and your ability to quickly scan for information.
In question 4 you see the word ‘increase’, but in the text the phrase ‘build up’ is used.
In question 5 the word ‘tourists’ is used but in the text we read the word ‘visitors’.