Reading and note taking skills
The sections below feature detailed information and advice to help you get through the reading involved in your studies.
Before you start
Get a clear idea about the purpose of your reading and what you want to get out of it. Ask yourself:
Why am I reading this?
- Preparation for an assigment?
- Pre-reading for a lecture?
- Researching for a presentation?
- Finding ideas for a project?
What do I want to get out of it?
- General idea of the content?
- Specific facts?
- The author's viewpoint?
What do I know already?
How will I know when I have read enough?
Reading for an assignment
This is one of the most common purposes of academic reading, so make sure you start with a clear focus.
- Interpreting your assignment (activity)
Detailed advice and activities to help you interpret assignment titles and understand what you are being asked to do.
Finding the information you need
- Finding the information you need
Comprehensive help from the Skills@Library finding and evaluating information page.
Reading at university level is all about making choices: choosing which texts to read, and which sections of those texts. The choices you make will depend on your purpose for reading.
- Managing your reading (activity)
Work through this activity for advice on how to select relevant texts to read for your assignments and a reading strategy to help you through it.
- Skills@Library finding and evaluating information
Comprehensive help to ensure that the information you use is reliable and of a high quality.
Reading strategies and speed reading
Choosing the most appropriate strategy for your purpose is the first step to making your reading more efficient.
This activity describes different reading strategies and how best to use them for different purposes. It also covers speed reading techniques.
Speed reading tools
Critical thinking is an essential skill which should be applied to all aspects of university education.
- Critical reading (activity)
This activity gives you detailed information on reading critically and considers how to use evidence and develop convincing arguments.
Finding the argument
These three short demonstration videos show how to find the argument in an academic text:
- Reading with understanding e-workshop
Adapted from our face-to-face workshop, this 30-minute resource contains strategies for tackling complex texts.
Copying out large sections from a book or journal whilst reading is bad practice: it does not help you to understand what you are reading, and can easily lead to unintentional plagiarism.
- ALLEN, K. L. 2005. Study Skills: A Student Survival Guide. Wiley: Chichester
- REYNOLDS, M.C. 2002. Reading for Understanding. Wadsworth: California
- COTTRELL, S. 2008 The Study Skills Handbook. Palgrave: Hampshire
- ROBERTS, J. M. 2004. Effective Study Skills, Pearson: USA
- FAIRBAIRN, G. 2001. Reading at University: A Guide for Students. Open University Press: Maidenhead.