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PTE reading: scanning and skimming techniques for quick analysis

The Reading section of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) assesses your ability to comprehend and analyze written texts. One key skill to master in this section is the ability to scan and skim effectively. Scanning and skimming techniques allow you to quickly analyze texts for specific information and get an overall understanding of their content. In this blog, we will explore the importance of scanning and skimming in the PTE Reading section and provide valuable tips to help you improve these skills.

Understanding Scanning and Skimming:

Scanning involves quickly looking through a text to locate specific information, such as keywords, dates, or names. Skimming, on the other hand, involves rapidly reading through a text to get a general idea of its content, main points, and structure. Both techniques are valuable for efficient reading and comprehension.

Preview the Text:

Before diving into the details, spend a few moments previewing the text. Look at the headings, subheadings, bolded or italicized text, and any visuals such as graphs or tables. This gives you a sense of the text's structure and helps you anticipate what to expect.

Identify Keywords and Phrases:

While scanning, focus on identifying keywords and phrases related to the specific information you are looking for. These can be nouns, verbs, or important terms that are likely to appear in the answer options or that relate to the main idea of the text. Circle or underline these keywords to quickly locate them later.

Pay Attention to First and Last Sentences:

When skimming, pay close attention to the first and last sentences of each paragraph. These sentences often contain the main idea or topic sentence, giving you a glimpse of what the paragraph is about. By quickly grasping the main points, you can decide whether to read the entire paragraph in more detail or move on to the next one.

Use Your Finger or Pen:

As you scan or skim the text, use your finger or a pen to guide your eyes along the lines. This helps you maintain focus and prevents your eyes from wandering. It also improves your reading speed and reduces the chances of skipping important information.

Practice Time Management:

Time management is crucial in the PTE Reading section. Allocate a specific amount of time to each text and stick to it. Scanning and skimming allow you to quickly analyze the text's content and decide how much time to dedicate to each question. Prioritize questions that require detailed reading and comprehension, and save time by efficiently scanning for specific information.

Practice with Various Text Types:

To improve your scanning and skimming skills, practice with a variety of text types. This includes academic articles, newspaper articles, opinion pieces, and other written materials. Each text type has its own structure and style, so exposing yourself to different formats will enhance your ability to quickly identify key information.

Take Practice Tests:

Regularly take practice tests to simulate the PTE Reading experience. Time yourself and apply scanning and skimming techniques to find answers quickly. Analyze your performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Build Vocabulary and Background Knowledge:

Having a strong vocabulary and a broad range of background knowledge will significantly assist your scanning and skimming skills. The more familiar you are with different topics and terminology, the easier it will be to identify key information and comprehend the text quickly.


Mastering the scanning and skimming techniques is crucial for success in the PTE Reading section. By previewing the text, identifying keywords and phrases, paying attention to the first and last sentences, practicing time management, and regularly taking practice tests, you can significantly improve your ability to quickly analyze texts and locate specific information. With practice and exposure to various text types, you will enhance your reading efficiency and perform confidently in the PTE exam.