Get started - Active Reading
Reading articles, course materials and exam questions requires some slightly enhanced skills to make sure you get the most out of your learning. This taster unit is designed to get you thinking about how you read, and some of the skills you might need to develop while you are on your higher level course.
Reading is a very personal activity; some people read very quickly, others much slower. Some people can read anywhere, when others need to be in complete silence. Academic reading is rather different from reading a newspaper or a magazine though, and it does require some special skills that you will need to develop as you work through a higher level course.
How quickly should you read?
Read this paragraph, then scroll down the page so that you can no longer see it and answer the questions below:
There were four cats lying on the step in the sunshine. One was a tabby, two were ginger and the other one was black and white. When the door opened they all looked up at their owner expectantly, she stood there in her tatty dressing gown and yawned, blinking in the sun.
Now answer these questions:
- How many cats were there?
- What colours were the cats?
- What was the weather like?
- What was the owners' dressing gown like?
- What did the cats do when their owner opened the door?
- What did the owner do after she had opened the door?
Think about this
Did you answer all the questions correctly? Did you find this activity difficult, or easy? Of course, this was a short and very simple paragraph and the reading that will be expected of you in your higher study will be academic. However, there are some important lessons to be learnt about making sense of what you read. Looking at the ideas in this unit will help you read actively so that you can learn effectively from your reading. For more ideas try How to Skim Read, Choosing a reading speed; What is an active reader; and Hints & Tips. To find out what current students say about academic reading have a look at What do students say?