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Reading for gist is reading to get a general sense of what a reading passage is basically about. In other words, we read to understand the main topic, or theme of the passage. For example, a reading passage might basically be about a new type of technology, or a tourist's vacation trip, or a story about a fictional character.
Identifying details in a text to answer specific questions (eg: who, what, when, where, why) is often achieved through a strategy known as ‘Scanning’ for details. This is actually a technique often used in daily life when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. Also when you read a newspaper, you're probably not reading it word-by-word, instead you're scanning the text for important information of interest.
Often a reading passage contains definitions or explanations of new words related to the topic. The definitions in the text may be given through different clues to help you identify how the author has explained its meaning. It is important to understand synonyms or parallel expressions are often used to define target vocabulary items .
Understanding R eference in a text is an important reading skill which involves focusing on specific meaning of ‘pronoun references’ used throughout a passage ( eg: this, those, their, it ). This is an important skill to help develop full comprehension of significant details of a section of a passage which refer back to previous statements made.