Assignment Planning: Read and Take Notes
See also the reading
pages of the Study Skills section
Before you can take notes, you have to read. Active reading is a method of engaging with the text that you are reading,and can help you stay focused and retain more information. You can read actively by:
- Reading with a specific focus
- Keep in mind what information you are looking for as you read
- Separate main ideas from supporting details, fact from opinion
- Look for 'signposts' that will help you understand the text - phrases like 'most importantly', 'in contrast', 'on the other hand'.
- Read everything more than once
- Look for repetition in the text - the key concepts may be repeated for emphasis
- Look around in the text to find relationships between ideas expressed in the text
- Breaking the text up into portions
- Don't read the whole text in one sitting
- Set a timer and stop after 20–25 minutes and take a 5-minute break
- Before you start reading again, think about/process what you were reading
- Reading critically - ask the following questions as you read:
- How convincing is the author's argument?
- Is there information you expected to find but did not?
- Did any information surprise you?
- Is there anything that you want to know more about?
- Does this reading support or contradict your ideas?
- Taking notes as you read
- Underline or highlight anything that you consider important (but be selective - don't underline/highlight too much).
- Make notes in the margins - or use post-its to mark anything noteworthy or confusing, or otherwise worthy of attention.
- NB Don't write in books (e.g library books) that don't belong to you!
- Use a dictionary or encyclopaedia to look up any words or concepts that you don't know
- Separately, write down important points and facts you want to remember
- After you finish reading, write a summary of the key points
- Speaking as well as reading
- Consider recording yourself reading, and listening back while you're doing other things
- Find someone who will listen to you talk about what you've just read
- Have someone "quiz" you a day after your reading to actively check your understanding
- Keeping track of what you read
- Keep a separate file where you record the details of what you've read
- Think about using reference management software to store this information.
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