Focus on the Question
Read with a purpose, and have an idea of the information you are looking for before you begin reading. Keep reminding yourself of the question to be answered so you don't waste time reading irrelevant material. Try to identify any evidence to support your ideas.
Use the Table of Contents and Index
Using the Table of Contents and Index can enable you to directly locate relevant information.
Take a minute to preview a chapter or article. Don't take any notes, don't underline, just scan the material. Preview the material by reading abstracts, listed objectives, headings, subheadings, introductions and conclusions. Note any pictures, graphs or charts.
Skimming is the process of quickly locating specific information from a large quantity of written material.
To skim text:
• Allow your eyes to move quickly over a page untill you find a relevant section.
• Look for key words or names. Phrases such as "on the other hand" and "finally" often signify a summary of the author's main arguments or conclusions.
• When you locate information requring attention, slow down to read the relevant section more thoroughly.
Skimming is no substitute for thorough reading and should only be used to locate material quickly.
• Taking notes from the reading helps you to focus. Be selective and don't write down everything. Don't be a human copy machine; if you really need every word then photocopy.
• Identify major and minor arguments and the supporting evidence.
• React to what you read; agree, disagree, question.
• Try not to use copious notetaking as a way of avoiding understanding complex material.
• Highlighter pens and Post-it stickers can help you read more actively.
You need to review your notes to remember them and put them into the perspective of the essay. Reviewing tells you if you have answered the question and identifies any weak areas and poorly understood...