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Skimming is reading a text quickly to get a general idea of meaning. It can be contrasted with scanning, which is reading in order to find specific information, e.g. figures or names.
A learner taking a reading exam decides to approach text by looking at the title, introductions, and any diagrams and sub-headings, then skim reading to get a clear general idea of what the text is about.
In the classroom
Skimming is a specific reading skill which is common in reading newspapers, messages and e-mails. It is important that learners understand that there is no need to read every word when skimming, so often teachers set this as a timed task to encourage speed.