As you prepare to write essays you will be faced with more reading than you are probably used to. How can you improve your reading skills so that you read with greater speed and efficiency than before? You may be reading books or essay examples, but if your reading is holding you may miss vital details.
Essay Reading Skills
You don’t have to read the whole book or article. If a title has been recommended for an essay, you can skim through it and read the important points. See the table of contents and flick through the chapters to see which sections are relevant to your essay question. Captions for images and photographs can be useful too.
If you’re really stuck for time, just look at the abstract (if there is one) and the Introduction and Conclusion. You may not get the subtleties of every point in the argument, but much of the writer’s opinion will be set out in the introduction or summed up in the conclusion.
Make sure you have a comfortable place to do your reading. Consider the light available, temperature, noise levels and the comfort of your chair. Don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to read in dark, noisy or otherwise intolerable physical conditions.
Read with purpose. Academic study demands that you read material critically. You don’t have to agree with a source – in fact, often your tutor will be impressed that you have come up with a fresh point of view.
Essay Reading Difficulties
It can be difficult to admit as an adult that you have a problem with reading.
If you’re suffering from blurred vision or migraines when reading or after working on the computer for a while, visit the opticians. Reading for long hours in badly lit places may mean that your eyesight is changing.
There are a number of reading problems related to health, from dyslexia through to less well known health problems. If you are concerned that you have a health issue you may want to see a doctor to investigate the causes.
If it’s purely a case of motivation, make sure you read for pleasure as well as for your studies. You’ll be surprised at how often a book you read purely ‘for fun’ months ago becomes something you can usefully footnote in your essay writing.
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