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How To Read Like a Grad Student


This is my favorite lesson to teach upper-level humanities students--because it rocks their world! Spoiler alert, if you are reading every word of a book starting from the intro and ending with the conclusion, you are doing it wrong!

STOP READING SEQUENTIALLY FROM THE FIRST PAGE TO THE LAST!
STOP GIVING EVERY WORD/PART OF THE BOOK EQUAL ATTENTION!

Unfortunately, I find that most undergraduates (and even new graduate students) don't know how to read. No, I don't mean they can't comprehend the words on the page or the argument the author is trying to convey. I mean, they don't know how to read strategically and efficiently. You wouldn't watch every TV show or movie the same way--some are simple and funny while others are intense and complex--so why are you reading every book the same way?

Novels and magazines are usually read for pleasure. You start at the beginning and follow the story to the end. This seems like a logical way to read. But it is not a logical way to read everything!

First you should understand why you are reading. Is it to study for an exam? Contribute to an in-class discussion? Write a paper? Prepare for a lecture? Different purposes require different strategies.

Every section, or even every word, of a book shouldn't be given equal attention or time. If you are trying to simply gather facts, you focus on specific relevant chapters. If you need to engage with an author's argument or methodology, you focus the majority of your time on the intro and the conclusion, since the middle of the book consists of evidence to support their argument/methodology.

I created this fun info graphic (which are all the rage right now) as a guide to efficient reading!



And remember no matter what you are reading, it is important to be an active reader.


Are you an efficient reader?

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Ashley B
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7 comments:

  1. I'm not in school anymore, but this is a great summary of how to read! As a nursing student, we were assigned hundreds of pages to read a week. Needless to say, I figured this out pretty quick. Great post!

    agirlandhersparkles.blogspot.com

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  2. Love this so much! I am definitely going to use this when I study!

    Hunter
    www.preponabudget.com

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  3. These are great tips and I totally agree, highlighting and taking using sticky notes totally helped me stay away while reading long boring chapters in grad school!
    -Alex
    http://www.monstermisa.blogspot.com/

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  4. Love these reading tips, this is how I read for the most part but I never really realized it was a good strategy I always thought I was "cheating" haha.

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  5. Great infographic! Students in my former program (Biology) would waste so much time if they didn't know these tips. I feel so lucky to have learned them in high school!

    xo,
    Rachel
    Suppose Anything Goes

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  6. I am so glad you posted these because I really needed tips for taking notes right now for my AP World History class.

    - Sarah
    chemandcardigans.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Sarah, I actually taught AP World briefly before starting my PhD. It is a tough class! I will try to post tricks for taking notes soon!

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