Really Effective Reading

28 Apr, 2021

By the time you get to University reading is second nature, and you might even have had some practice with self-directed study and research – however, a degree (or higher) level course requires a different style of reading which is focussed around requirement and comprehension.

The Requirement

When faced with a lengthy text book it is important to understand what it is you want to get from reading it, are there specific questions you want answered; are you reading to give yourself a more detailed understanding of a topic; are you studying to give depth to an essay you’re writing. Understanding this upfront can change how you approach the text and there are some simple steps you can take to make this part of the process flawless.

  1. 1. Define your purpose – what do you need to get from the reading?
  2. 2. Do a chapter and synopsis review – where is the information you need contained? Across one chapter or several?
  3. 3. Write a list of questions – make sure these are mapped out so that you can be sure you’re getting all the information you need from the text.

The Comprehension

Reading and understanding are two very different things. We absorb written information all the time – often subconsciously – in order to make decisions. However, when you are reading for study you need to ensure that the information you are reading is absorbed and processed in order to be useful to you in the future. There are some simple ways that you can do this:

  1. 1. Read out loud – often the act of reading out loud means we slow down and focus on all of the words rather than the general meaning
  2. 2. Highlight the good stuff – where there are parts that are particularly significant or can be used to trigger wider memories highlight these (in text or in your notes) as an aide memoire
  3. 3. Draw it out – rewriting and mapping out information in whatever form suits you helps your memory retain it and recall it more easily
  4. 4. Review it – once you’ve been through make sure you’ve answered all of your initial questions from the requirement stage and that you have understood everything you’ve read.
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