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Before you start reading

You will need to read widely to develop an understanding of your subject. You should have a reading list for each module with recommended reading from your lecturer, and you may have to find your own material to prepare for assignments, tutorials or exams.

You can be more effective and productive in your reading by planning, using different reading strategies and approaching texts critically.

Identify your purpose

Prepare for your reading by thinking about why you need to read, and what you are trying to achieve. You may need to build up your knowledge on a new topic, or look for something specific, or find the author’s opinion on a particular subject.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Why am I reading this?
  • What do I need to know?
  • What do I already know?
  • How will I know when I have read enough?

This will help you to be more selective when you are choosing relevant texts for your task, and help you identify the relevant parts of the text to focus on.

Choose your sources

Usually, you cannot read all the texts that you find on a topic, or even everything suggested on a comprehensive reading list. Therefore, you need to make choices and be selective about what you read.

Read the front and back covers, the contents page, and the index to see what it covers, and discard anything that doesn’t contain what you need.

Opt for quality and not quantity; choose reliable and relevant sources. Our evaluating information checklist (PDF) introduces some criteria that can help determine the quality and relevance of a source for your purpose.