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Study Success at Sussex (S3)

Reading strategies

At university you will have to read for various purposes: to prepare for seminars, lectures, workshops and for assessments (e.g. essays).
In this section we will take you through various strategies you can use when reading an academic text for university study. We will provide you with general principles in relation to these strategies, tips from students and the opportunity to practise reading using different approaches.

This section includes:

We suggest that if you want to practise all of these strategies it's best to do so in the order shown above. However, you can also go straight to particular sections for general information. The approach you take and strategies you use will depend on your purpose. For example, sometimes you may just need to scan a text to find a key piece of information; at other times it may be useful to highlight, annotate and make notes.

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Veronika

Second year Psychology

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We will usually be doing research for an essay, for example, so it's important to use a wide variety of sources usually you'll have different theories and usually you'll read up on all of them and then maybe later focus on one but you'll need to know them all. When you're reading it's really important to take notes because otherwise it might just go completely past you. I think making notes helps you. I summarise or I'll put an extra point for something important or an idea I've had upon reading it and I think it's important because firstly you kind of concentrate more on the text because you're reading it more in depth and secondly if you're preparing for a seminar you can just before the seminar look at your notes and have a quick summary rather than having to read the entire thing again. Also for revision as well it's quite good to have that.

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Jess

Third year Chemistry

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When you make notes the first time round often it is bit rushed in lectures. But if you take the time to go back through them again, even before you start revising for exams, and write out what you've written down and make sure you understand it it really helps me. Particularly for certain chemistry reactions where you need to know exactly where things go. If you've made a little mistake it is better to find out sooner, when you copying out your notes again, rather than later just before your exam when you find out you have learnt it wrong.

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Kalim

Third year English literature

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So reading is obviously a very important thing on my course, as it is on most courses. The way I've got better at reading is just to keep on doing it, to keep on forcing myself, little sections during the day. Instead of saying I'm going to read for five hours thinking right I've got an hour now I'm going to read and then I'll do something else and then I'll read for another hour. And also to realise when I'm not paying attention and that there is no point going on, if I really can't pay attention now then I'm best off doing something else and coming back to it later on. Again making notes is a good way to keep yourself active. It does take longer to read a book if you're making notes with it but at the same time it probably balances out because you're concentrating more on the book so you're probably going to spend a lot less time day dreaming, like I do. That would probably be my reading tips.

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Tayo

Second year Electrical and electronic engineering

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Once you get into the uni try and make friends with people on your course. So you can get together and start group reading or group discussion where everyone goes back home, reads this chapter and then you talk about it the next day. You get a lot from each other doing that kind of group reading or discussion. But I believe that each individual has their own ways of reading or learning. Most people prefer reading through day or night. But , people like me, I can't do it. I prefer waking up in the morning and just reading a few pages, close the book , enjoy the rest of the day - by doing this I learn a lot . Some people just prefer reading straight for hours but I can't read that straight. I like reading bit by bit. I realise that I always learn a lot from that.

You need to do your reading in a place where you can concentrate. This may be at home or in a calm place away from distractions, such as the library.

You should adapt your reading speed according to the text and your purpose for reading it. How fast you should go will depend on what you already know about the subject, how difficult the text is, and how thoroughly you need to understand it.

You cannot learn intensively for hour upon hour. Divide up reading time into several sessions rather than a single long one. But if sessions are too short, you will not have time to get properly into the frame of thinking required. Observe and improve your own habits.