B2 First Reading Skills and Use of English 11 with examples.

FCE First Certificate Course Lesson 29

Dialogue Lesson 29

Dialogue 29: Scanning/Skimming

EMMA: Do you have any more tips about specific techniques I can use in the reading part of the exam? I’ve heard of skimming and scanning texts but to be honest, I’m not sure how you actually do that.

TERRY: I was the same. I just assumed scanning and skimming meant to read a text very quickly but it actually requires skill.

EMMA: I’m glad I’m not the only one! So, what do I have to do?

GORDON: When you skim a text, it means that you only read the most important information, this speeds up your reading time but obviously you will have less understanding compared to if you had read it thoroughly at a slower pace. But, to make sure that you have all the understanding necessary for good enough comprehension, you need to learn how to read the most important information in texts.

TERRY: I would advise reading the first one or two paragraphs completely, then just reading the first one or two sentences of the following paragraphs. If you don’t have a clue what the paragraph is talking about, continue to read past the first sentence, but if you think you can understand the general context, you can just pick out important parts of the paragraph like events, times and places.

EMMA: Oh, ok. I suppose I can practise with as many texts as possible to improve the technique of selecting the most relevant information. Thanks guys!

Vocabulary lesson 29



to scan

to look quickly but not very thoroughly through (a document or other text) in order to identify relevant information

to skim

to read something quickly or superficially

to assume

to suppose to be the case, without proof


as the truth or facts of a situation; really

to speed up

to increase in speed, especially the rate of working


clearly, evidently

to not have a clue

to have no idea

the general context

the main ideas

to pick out

to select, to choose


pertinent, related


Exam Tips 29


Common reading techniques for better time management and accuracy involve skimming and scanning. This means running through a text using rapid eye movement, locating key words so as to move quickly through the passage.

The purpose of scanning and skimming does however differ slightly. 

Scanning is used to locate specific information, whereas skimming is used to gain a general overview of the text.

Skimming implies:

  • reading fast,
  • getting the main idea and not all the details (such as the topic),
  • leaving out certain parts of the text,
  • moving on to the next paragraph once you have understood a quarter to a half of that paragraph,
  • understanding less (approximately 50% of the text),
  • going through material you are unfamiliar with.

Scanning implies:

  • reading to locate a specific piece of information (such as a number, a name…),
  • not reading every word,
  • finding information quickly,
  • going through material we are generally familiar with.

Both reading techniques can be used with all types of documents. 

Generally we would skim a text, then read it, then scan it for specific information. This is of course not always true, especially depending on the exam question type you are trying to answer. In a same reading activity you could start by reading, then skim through a passage to then carry on reading, and go back on a paragraph which you would then scan.


Grammar and Vocabulary recommended Videos

Exercises FCE 29

Vocabulary Exercise

Comprehension Exercise

Grammar Exercise