Tips for Effective Reading
When you are new to university study, the amount of reading you are expected to do can be daunting. What appears to be an impossible task (tackling all that text) becomes possible when you start becoming an active reader; that is, asking questions about what you need to find out, taking a strategic and critical approach, and then selecting readings that relate to your questions and tasks. The basics: Multiply the number of pages you have to read by 5 minutes. That is the amount of time the average college student needs to spend on their reading assignment. Keep this in mind as you schedule time to do your reading.
Many students make the mistake of picking up tp textbook and reading 50 pages straight through front to back and assuming they are done with their reading assignment. These students ho often struggle to participate actively in class discussion and may not do well on the univeraity. There are better reas for getting the most out of your reading. Let's take a closer look. Feel free to grab a textbook to use as example as you read this portion.
You would most likely not travel how to read for university another country without getting a lay uuniversity the land first. Often we read a tourism book or look at a map. We might try to learn a few words in the other language.
If the country is similar to our own England speaks the same language as the U. This advance preparation allows us to get off the plane and have a sense of what we know and don't know, what questions we will need to ask and where we want to head first.
Previewing a textbook accomplishes much the same thing. Start by looking at the beginning of your page chunk. Read section titles. If no titles, read first lines of paragraphs. Read the last paragraph. Glance over charts or photos used on the pages. Read study questions or summaries that might be given at the end of the chunk of pages. Now, take a moment to think about what you have just seen. What do you think will be the main topic of that section?
What do you already know about it from your childhood, past courses or other readings how many skeins of yarn to crochet a blanket this current class? What is your biggest question right now--what more do you need to know? Now, you have a sense of raed you are heading. Hopefully, you bow a bit curious about what you will be reading, have some questions in your mind and will be able to fit what you read into a bigger umiversity of where it fits into the whole chapter.
Do not take notes or highlight as you read; this tends to break up your flow and diminish your understanding. It also isn't very productive, because you don't know if the how do i get to southend airport from london sentence is worth taking notes on until after you have read the third sentence, which might be the real point of the paragraph.
So, read at least one complete paragraph or a short section before you stop to take notes and highlight. Your first step after you read the paragraph is to highlight a phrase or two that were the important unibersity that you'll need to know for future reference.
Don't pick just words too little or whole sentences too much. Exceptions to this might be dates or definitions. The idea is that you could re-read JUST the highlighted portion in a month and get the gist of the paragraph without having to re-read the whole paragraph.
Now go to the margins or your post-its and start writing a question or two for the paragraph. This might be universiyt years were considered the Renaissance? If you need to cheat and look at the book, you should underline those highlighted notes to show that you need to how to be a health coach an integrative wellness approach that more.
If you could answer it, you are doing well on recalling that paragraph. This is also a good time to make some notes for hwo. Take a sheet of paper or a notecard and write down questions that you want to ask in class to understand a concept or to ask how it connects to something else you've read,etc.
Write universiyy any ubiversity or opinions you want to share resd the class. You may want to jot ot page numbers and quotes that may be useful to discuss rsad class. Some people prefer to also make these notes in their margins or at the end of the chapter. That is fine. Now read the next paragraph or short section one column, for example and do the same process as above. At rexd end of the ten-page chunk, take a moment and think about the section you have read in its entirety.
Go to a clean sheet of paper or a reading journal and jot down a summary in your own words, not quotes from book of what you just read. Then make some broad observations about how it connects to other things you knew or have read or any feelings you might have about what you've read. When you have finished the entire reading assignment, finish up your reading journal and univrrsity thoughts and organize your note-cards or split sheet of paper so you are ready for class tomorrow.
Faculty members do not assign reading as busy work. They feel the ro is valuable. So, approach it with as much energy and creativity as you can muster. If it is not a class that particularly excites you, try to relate it to something that does.
A great example might be physics and baseball. You'd be surprised at how much science can apply to things like the trajectory of eead ball or the impact needed on the bat to make a ball go a certain distance,etc. If you are in doubt, ask the professor to help you relate the topic to something you do enjoy and he or she fo be able to help you connect the dots. You might also consider your future career and whether you could make use of this knowledge in small talk or in background knowledge for that type of job.
If something is not making sense, try reading it out loud. That can often help you process the material in a new way. Try to keep your notes in your own words, not the words from the book. This helps you avoid plagiarism in papers and helps you think more about the reading which will, in turn, help you retain the material for tests or when it comes time to write a paper.
If you run into vocabulary words you do not know, try to look up the important ones. If there are concepts or the book refers to an event you've never heard of, look at credo reference or Oxford reference on the library's main webpage. If you don't understand something you read, ask the professor via email, in person at class, or get a tutor! Reading a Textbook for True Understanding. The basics: Multiply the number of pages you have to resd by 5 minutes. That unibersity the amount of time the average college student needs to spend on their reading assignment.
Keep this in mind hiw you schedule time to do your reading. If you calculate four hours of reading, you might not want to read p. Consider getting an hour in before class in the morning or over the lunch break - spread it out a univeersity. Divide the reading into page chunks.
The system described below should be done on the page chunk before you move to the next set of pages and start the method over again.
Have a highlighter in hand, a pen or pencil and paper or notecards depending on your preference. Writing in the book itself is highly recommended, but if you have some reason for not doing that, you might also want post-its and use those on each page in what to do when your relationship is dying of writing in the book.
Univerxity the book is already highlighted by a previous reader not ideal situation please use a highlighter of a different color. Preview: You would most likely not travel to another country without getting a lay of the land first. Read Actively: Do not take notes or highlight as you read; this tends to break up your flow and diminish your understanding. Review : At the end of the ten-page chunk, take a moment and think about the section you have read in its entirety. Go back and try to answer the questions in the margins.
Now start the whole thing over with the next pages. Request Info. Ho Cornell. Apply Now.
According to the University of Southern Queensland, students should “never start reading at page 1 of the text.” Instead, you should first consult the introduction, table of contents, index, author's notes, even the conclusion. Oct 19, · Critical reading--active engagement and interaction with texts--is essential to your academic success at Harvard, and to your intellectual growth. Research has shown that students who read deliberately retain more information and retain it longer.
Rogier van der Weyden, Altarpiece fragment, Mary Magdalene reading. National Gallery Great Britain. Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. Ivo reading, ca. Max Beckmann Reclining Woman Reading, with Irises 3. Oil on canvas. Private collection. H onore Daumier Reader Oil on wood. University of California, San Diego. Image available in ARTStor. Young Man Reading a Book c. Attributed to Mirza 'Ali c. Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Suzuki Harunobo Color woodcut.
Richardson 5, fol. Houghton Library. Critical reading--active engagement and interaction with texts--is essential to your academic success at Harvard, and to your intellectual growth. Research has shown that students who read deliberately retain more information and retain it longer.
Your college reading assignments will probably be more substantial and more sophisticated than those you are used to from high school. The amount of reading will almost certainly be greater. College students rarely have the luxury of successive re-readings of material, however, given the pace of life in and out of the classroom.
While the strategies described below are for the sake of clarity listed sequentially, you typically do most of them simultaneously. They may feel awkward at first, and you may have to deploy them very consciously the first few times, especially if you are not used to doing anything more than moving your eyes across the page.
But you can learn a great deal more about the organization and purpose of a text by taking note of features other than its length. Previewing enables you to develop a set of expectations about the scope and aim of the text. These very preliminary impressions offer you a way to focus your reading. For instance:. It's also a way to have an ongoing conversation with yourself as you move through the text and to record what that encounter was like for you.
Here's how to make your reading thinking-intensive from start to finish:. Outlining the argument of a text is a version of annotating, and can be done quite informally in the margins of the text, unless you prefer the more formal Roman numeral model you may have learned in high school. Outlining enables you to see the skeleton of an argument: the thesis, the first point and evidence and so on , through the conclusion.
With weighty or difficult readings, that skeleton may not be obvious until you go looking for it. Summarizing accomplishes something similar, but in sentence and paragraph form, and with the connections between ideas made explicit.
Analyzing adds an evaluative component to the summarizing process—it requires you not just to restate main ideas, but also to test the logic, credibility, and emotional impact of an argument. In analyzing a text, you reflect upon and decide how effectively or poorly its argument has been made. Questions to ask:. It can also alert you to ideological positions, hidden agendas or biases.
Be watching for:. When you contextualize, you essentially "re-view" a text you've encountered, acknowledging how it is framed by its historical, cultural, material, or intellectual circumstances. Do these factors change, complicate, explain, deepen or otherwise influence how you view a piece?
Also view the reading through the lens of your own experience. Your understanding of the words on the page and their significance is always shaped by what you have come to know and value from living in a particular time and place. Harvard University Digital Accessibility Policy. Toggle navigation. Table of Contents. Thinking-Intensive Reading Critical reading--active engagement and interaction with texts--is essential to your academic success at Harvard, and to your intellectual growth.
For instance: What does the presence of headnotes , an abstrac t, or other prefatory materia l tell you? Is the author known to you already? If so, how does their reputation or credentials influence your perception of what you are about to read? How does the disposition or layout of a text prepare you for reading?
Is the material broken into parts--subtopics, sections, or the like? How might the parts of a text guide you toward understanding the line of inquiry or the arc of the argument that's being made? Does the text seem to be arranged according to certain conventions of discourse? Here's how to make your reading thinking-intensive from start to finish: Throw away your highlighter : Highlighting can seem like an active reading strategy, but it can actually distract from the business of learning and dilute your comprehension.
Those bright yellow lines you put on a printed page one day can seem strangely cryptic the next, unless you have a method for remembering why they were important to you at another moment in time. Pen or pencil will allow you to do more to a text you have to wrestle with. Mark up the margins of your text with words and phrases : ideas that occur to you, notes about things that seem important to you, reminders of how issues in a text may connect with class discussion or course themes.
This kind of interaction keeps you conscious of the reasons you are reading as well as the purposes your instructor has in mind. Later in the term, when you are reviewing for a test or project, your marginalia will be useful memory triggers. Your personalized set of hieroglyphs allow you to capture the important -- and often fleeting -- insights that occur to you as you're reading. Like notes in your margins, they'll prove indispensable when you return to a text in search of that perfect passage to use in a paper, or are preparing for a big exam.
Write the questions down in your margins, at the beginning or end of the reading, in a notebook, or elsewhere. Take the information apart, look at its parts, and then try to put it back together again in language that is meaningful to you. Questions to ask: What is the writer asserting? What am I being asked to believe or accept?
Some mixture? What reasons or evidence does the author supply to convince me? Where is the strongest or most effective evidence the author offers -- and why is it compelling? Is there any place in the text where the reasoning breaks down?
Are there things that do not make sense, conclusions that are drawn prematurely, moments where the writer undermines their purposes? Look for repetitions and patterns The way language is chosen, used, and positioned in a text can be an important indication of what an author considers crucial and what they expect you to glean from their argument.
Be watching for: Recurring images Repeated words, phrases, types of examples, or illustrations Consistent ways of characterizing people, events, or issue.
Compare and Contrast Set course readings against each other to determine their relationships hidden or explicit. At what point in the term does this reading come? Why that point, do you imagine? How does it contribute to the main concepts and themes of the course? How does it compare or contrast to the ideas presented by texts that come before it? Does it continue a trend, shift direction, or expand the focus of previous readings?
How has your thinking been altered by this reading, or how has it affected your response to the issues and themes of the course? Report a problem.
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