Types of Reading Skills and Their Purpose

Types of Reading Skills and Their Purpose

Reading is the cornerstone of all study techniques. Without efficient reading skills, taking notes, creating mind maps, and retaining information will take much longer than necessary. It’s, therefore, important for you as a student to focus and improve your reading skills as this will benefit you during and beyond your educational journey.

In this article, we’ll discuss why reading is important and explain the 4 reading techniques that can be used to study more effectively. 

How Reading is Applied in Studying

Effective reading techniques offer numerous benefits to students. These techniques can enhance your academic performance and overall learning experience. By actively engaging with the text through methods like annotation, highlighting, and summarisation, you will be able to improve your comprehension and retain essential information. 

Techniques such as skimming and scanning help manage study time efficiently and prioritise relevant material. Analytical reading fosters critical thinking skills, enabling students to evaluate arguments and draw informed conclusions. 

Cultivating strong reading skills also translates into effective note-taking and research proficiency. Furthermore, this allows you to broaden your perspectives as you explore diverse reading materials. This also encourages lifelong learning and will boost your confidence in academic and professional settings. 

Ultimately, mastering effective reading techniques equips students with valuable skills that extend far beyond the classroom, leading to academic success and personal growth.

The 4 Types of Reading Techniques

There are 4 types of reading techniques that will assist you with your studies and help improve your information retention, leading to higher grades. 

1. Skim Reading

Skim reading, often referred to as skimming, is a rapid reading technique used to gain an overall impression of the text without delving into every detail. When skimming, readers glance through the content, paying attention to headings, subheadings, bolded/italicised text, and any visuals. This technique is particularly useful when:

  • Previewing material: it‘s useful to skim through a text before undertaking an in-depth reading session. This will allow you to understand the main ideas and structure of the text.
  • Determining relevance: as you skim through a section of text, you’ll be able to determine which information is relevant and potentially important. Therefore, you’ll understand which areas to focus on and work through thoroughly. 
  • Refreshing: it can be useful to skim through text and sections before an exam. This’ll refresh you on the information you have already studied and help you remember the main points. 

Though skimming aids in quickly grasping the gist of a text, it may lead to missing finer points and nuances. As such, it's not recommended for comprehensive understanding or when dealing with complex subjects. Rather, it’s seen as the first step when approaching a topic and studying. 

2. Scan Reading

Scan reading or scanning, is another rapid reading technique that focuses on locating specific information within a text. Unlike skimming, where readers glance over the entire content, scanning involves a more targeted approach. Readers actively look for keywords, dates, names, or specific data, effectively ‘scanning’ the text for the required information. Scanning is useful in various scenarios:

  • Finding information: scanning can be used to find a particular piece of information in an index, table of contents, or glossary. 
  • Specific data: information sources such as articles or reports can be long and it’ll, therefore, take a lot of time to locate information if you read through each article properly. Scanning allows you to quickly find specific data in long pieces of text.
  • Locating answers: during an exam or while completing an assignment, scanning can help you quickly and easily locate answers hidden within the provided text. 

Scanning helps readers to save time and quickly pinpoint relevant information. However, it may not offer a profound understanding of the context or broader concepts present in the text.

3. Active and Intensive Reading

Active, or intensive reading, is a comprehensive and engaging reading technique that encourages readers to actively interact with the text. Instead of passively absorbing information, active reading involves asking questions, making connections, and taking notes. This technique is ideal for:

  • studying academic material and complex subjects in depth
  • enhancing your comprehension and retention of information
  • encouraging critical thinking and analysis of the content.

Active reading can be achieved through various strategies, such as annotating the text, highlighting key points, jotting down questions, or summarising the material in your own words. By actively participating in the reading process, readers can develop a deeper understanding and long-lasting knowledge.

4. Analytical Reading

Analytical reading is a reading technique that requires you to analyse the text you are interacting with. Therefore, this technique goes beyond comprehension and moves towards evaluating and critiquing the text. This approach is often employed by researchers, academics, and those seeking a thorough understanding of complex concepts. Analytical reading involves:

  • Identification: readers should identify the author's arguments, claims, and supporting evidence.
  • Assessment: the text should the assessed to determine the credibility and reliability of the information presented.
  • Recognition: readers should be able to recognise underlying assumptions and potential biases.
  • Comparison: lastly, the text should be compared to other relevant sources to develop a comprehensive perspective.

Analytical reading is time-consuming but crucial for developing a critical mindset and forming well-founded opinions. This approach is particularly valuable when dealing with academic papers, news articles, and persuasive texts. Therefore, this reading technique is most often used at the university level. 

How to Improve Your Reading Skills

There are a multitude of ways in which you can work towards improving your reading skills. Some of the most effective ways in which to achieve improvement include the following. 

  • Reading regularly: make reading a habit by setting aside dedicated time each day to read. Choose materials that interest you, whether it's books, articles, or online resources. The more you read, the more your reading skills will develop.
  • Setting goals: set achievable reading goals, such as completing a certain number of pages or chapters each day or week. Gradually increase the complexity and length of the texts you read as your skills improve.
  • Join a book club: participating in a book club exposes you to different perspectives and encourages discussions about the material. It can improve your understanding of texts and boost critical thinking.
  • Practising reading techniques: once you have increased your reading speed, it can be useful to practise these reading techniques. This can even be done with a book you enjoy, you don't necessarily have to practise with your study material. 

Ultimately, the key to improving your reading skills is to make it fun. This will encourage you to keep practising and make it seem less like a chore.