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Assignment Planning: Reading and note-taking
This sections outlines the steps involved in planning and writing your assignment
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.