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TOEFL iBT - Scanning

Scanning involves reading quickly to locate specific information. We all use this technique when looking up a name in a phone directory, a word in a dictionary, or a job in the classified advertisements. We also scan while browsing through timetables, schedules, and programs.

On the TOEFL, you will need to use scanning techniques throughout your exam. Whenever you have to go through a reading passage to locate a specific piece of information, check the meaning of a word or find a particular fact, you should use scanning techniques.

Scanning is similar to skimming in that it involves rapid reading. However, while skimming, we read through the entire passage or text to get the main ideas. In scanning, we usually read only until we find the information we are looking for.

Most ESL reading textbooks contain exercises related to scanning. In addition, general English textbooks designed to improve reading skills should include sections devoted to developing scanning skills.