Reading Skills for Academic Study
Summarising and note-taking
Reading is purposeful. The way you read something will depend on your purpose. You read different texts in different ways. In everyday life, you usually know why you are reading. You have a question and you read to find the answer. You usually know your way around your favourite newspaper, so if you want to know the sports results, you go straight to the correct page, or if you want to know what is on television tonight, you go straight to the television page. You do not start on the first page. When you read a novel, it is different. You start at the beginning and slowly move towards the end. In academic reading, you need to be flexible when you read – you may need to read quickly to find relevant sections, then read carefully when you have found what you want. General efficient reading strategies such as scanning to find the book or chapter, skimming to get the gist and careful reading of important passages are necessary as well as learning about how texts are structured in your subject.
Reading is an interactive process – it is a two-way process. As a reader you are not passive but active. This means you have to work at constructing the meaning from the marks on the paper, which you use as necessary. You construct the meaning using your knowledge of the language, your subject and the world, continually predicting and assessing. You need to be active all the time when you are reading. It is useful, therefore, before you start reading to try to actively remember what you know, and do not know, about the subject and as you are reading to formulate questions based on the information you have. Title, sub-titles and section heading can help you formulate question to keep you interacting.
Useful skills are: