Reading and Notemaking

Reading and taking notes are integral parts of learning at university. the resources in this section will help you improve your reading skills, prioritize your readings, and choose an effective note-making and review strategy to help you remember what you read.

In this section:

MODULES AND RESOURCES: Reading and Note-making


MODULE: Undergraduate Students

Improving your reading and note-making skills in undergrad.

MODULE: Graduate Students

Developing your critical reading and comprehension skills in graduate school.

Reading self-assessment, improve your concentration

Reading self-assessment, strategies to improve your concentration.

Reading with Purpose

Skimming, Levels of Thinking, Four levels of questions, Critical reading checklist

Note-making Methods & Strategies

SQ4R, ConStruct, Multipass, Cornell Method, Graphic organizers and Mind maps

Strategies for Reading Research Papers

Guided questions and tips for research papers, Assumptions, Arguments, Common logical fallacies

Strategies for Effective Note-making

Critical Reading Checklist, General Note-making Strategies, Staying on Task

Quick tips to improve reading skills

postit1. Set yourself up for reading: quiet place, turn off your technology, good lighting, a block of time. Lying on your soft, warm bed may lead to sleep- – not attentive reading.

2. Determine your reason for reading. For example,

  • in textbooks, it may be for clarification of material in the lecture
  • in scientific journals, it may be procedural details and results
  • in case studies, it may be to identify common themes and subsequent outcomes
  • in literature, it may be to track particular language patterns

3. Preview material to get the “big picture.”

4. Analyze the structure of a textbook for clues regarding main topics/subtopics/details/definitions/examples. The Preface may give important information about HOW to read and use the text.

5. Think of questions as you read, to stay awake and be more mentally involved.

6. Reflect on material when you finish a section: use your own words to summarize the main ideas.

7. Make notes at the end of a section, or go back and highlight only the key ideas.

8. Become aware of how long it takes to attentively read different kinds of material, and set realistic targets about how much you can read in a set amount of time. Every course or source may be different.

9. Increase your reading efficiency by identifying your purpose for reading (e.g., skimming for the big picture, reading for understanding) and learning the new vocabulary.

10. Develop the habit of reading. Allocate regular time for each course.

Image courtesy of Benson Kua under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivations 2.0 license.


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