Tips for Graduate Level Reading

Posted on November 23,2010 by jennymspp

I promised I would post this a while ago. It is something a teacher gave us that has really helped me get through the readings in many of my courses.

Reading with Strategy: A Student-tested Process for Effective Graduate Level Reading
When you pick up a textbook or open up your book order from Amazon, the task of reading and assimilating all that material may feel like a heavy load -- complicated, time-consuming and overwhelming. You are not alone in these thoughts, and you are not incorrect.

Read with strategy! Let go of the notion that you must read the book cover to cover. Consider these simple steps for orienting yourself to the text.

  • Survey the book: read the table of contents: glance at photos and their captions; read the comments on the cover jacket.
  • Look through the book stopping to read bold headings and only parts that catch your interest, and then move on.
  • Use the index to look up key topics that interest you. Skim or read these passages.
  • Read the forward and introduction, which might state the author’s overall plan or point of view, thus preparing you for the other ideas in the text.
  • Read the conclusion or summary section of each chapter you feel may be relevant to your current work.
  • Read the first sentence of every paragraph of the chapters that feel relevant. If the book is well written this will give you the full essence of the content.
  • Tab key pages or jot down any initial notes you think relevant and important enough to remember: “Ch 5 p. 125, good definition of learning disability, read more about….overall point seems to be…”

Pre-reading for even the thickest texts takes about 30 minutes and pays dividends of increased reader confidence, ownership, and interest. Reading strategically is a process for gaining control and balancing expectations. With this foundation, reading a text can be like meeting an acquaintance or a friend, not a dangerous stranger. Reading with Strategy is a tool that enhances the possibility of dialogue between you and the text.

As reading deepens, you can go back into the texts on your own terms. Your own
learning and scholarship are now at the center of the reading process -- the books
are resources to support your work.

M. Reiff 2007 Adapted from Lesley School of Management Writer’s Manual (2000)