Previewing

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Learn how to preview a text in order to familiarize yourself with its contents before you read. This will help you understand the material better and use your time more efficiently.

0:00 Owl: Welcome to How to Preview a Text, an instructional video on reading comprehension brought to you by the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab.
0:15 What would you do if you were suddenly dropped into an unfamiliar place?
0:19 Would you wander around aimlessly, hoping that somehow you will find your way?
0:24 Probably not.
0:25 You'd probably want to carefully explore and investigate your surroundings so that you can gather clues and information that can help you get your bearings and decide what to do next.
0:36 The experience of reading a new text can be similar to that of navigating an unfamiliar place.
0:42 Therefore, before reading you should explore the text first to gather clues and information that can help you get your bearings.
0:49 This is called Previewing.
0:52 Previewing involves surveying or scanning a text in order to create a mental map that can help you read more effectively.
1:00 When you preview, you look for sign-posts by doing the following things:
1:05 Scan for titles, headings, and subheadings
1:09 Skim the first paragraph or introduction
1:13 Skim the last paragraph or summary
1:16 Scan the first sentence after each heading
1:19 Skim the abstract (if provided)
1:22 Make a note of graphic aids such as figures, tables, charts, graphs, and images
1:30 Make a note of typographical aids such as bold-faced or highlighted words and phrases
1:36 Scan any supplemental material at the beginning or end of the text, such as chapter outlines, chapter objectives, discussion questions, or vocabulary lists
1:47 Previewing provides some great advantages:
1:51 First, it helps you evaluate a text in order to decide if it is relevant for your purposes.
1:57 This requires you to think about what your purpose is before you read.
2:00 For instance, if you're doing research on a topic, previewing can help you evaluate if a text provides information you need.
2:08 Second, it helps you read faster by identifying passages that you must read carefully versus those that you can skim or skip.
2:16 Generally, you want to slow down and read more carefully when a passage
2:21 covers a new topic you know very little about;
2:23 contains complicated or technical material;
2:26 is cluttered with essential visual aides like tables, charts, graphs, and images;
2:32 contains a lot of new or difficult vocabulary;
2:35 or requires a lot of visualization or interpretation.
2:40 On the other hand, you may want to skim or skip material when a passage
2:44 is easy to read,
2:46 covers material you already know well,
2:48 or covers material that isn't relevant to your purpose for reading.
2:53 Finally, it helps you read better by helping you identify questions you may have about the text.
2:59 We'll address questioning in another module.
3:03 Previewing is an excellent way to save time and improve your understanding of a text.
3:09 Just like you wouldn't want to wander around aimlessly in an unfamiliar place, you wouldn't want to wander into a text without previewing it!
3:22 Thanks for listening to this instructional video on How to Preview a Text.
3:27 Visit the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab for more support with reading and writing skills.

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The following text was sampled in this video:
OpenStax College, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax College. 25 April 2013. <http://cnx.org/content/col11496/latest/>.
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