skip to content
 

Reading for a degree requires different reading skills to reading for pleasure. Developing understanding through reading needs to be an active process, whereby you engage with the text, question and develop your ideas in response to it.

Reading techniques

The most appropriate technique will vary according to the purpose of your reading:

  • predicting the text - bringing to mind all the information you already know about the subject and relating this information to the text you're reading
  • sampling - reading short parts of a longer text (first and last lines of a section/paragraph) to get a feel for the text and what it's about
  • scanning - fast reading technique for locating specific information within text
  • skimming - fast reading technique, taking in headings, keywords, diagrams & illustrations to get an overview of the text and assessing its usefulness
  • critical reading - once you've established that the text is relevant, read critically and in-depth to get a full understanding of the text -include note-taking and referencing.

General tips

Keep the purpose of the reading at the front of your mind, and:

  • be selective and evaluate your reading material
  • set manageable targets for your reading, e.g. one section at a time, particularly if the material is information rich
  • after each section, try to recall what you have read
  • highlight or underline important points during first reading
  • make notes in the margin - i.e. observations & questions arising from your response to the text.

Reading critically

Reading critically helps develop independent thinking and reasoned argument. Ask yourself:

  • who is the author?
  • what's the purpose and viewpoint of the text?
  • what evidence is provided for the arguments?
  • are there other perspectives?
  • are there points missing?