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Reading for your assignment.

HEAT Stage 3: Making reading more manageable.

This section will help to:

  • Make reading easier to manage
  • Improve note making skills by trying different strategies

3.1 Reading for your assignment

How to make reading more manageable

Reading for your assignment is essential

  • to show that you aware of current academic thinking about your topic.
  • to find evidence to support your ideas.

First you need to have a general overview and then find information directly related to your task,

Don't believe everything you read; you need to question what you are reading.


Identify why you are reading.

  • Is it for an assignment? For an exam?
  • Think about the assignment title and decide what you want to find out. You'll find it helpful to write down the specific questions you need the answers to.
  • You may be starting from scratch or filling in gaps in your knowledge.


Useful techniques

  • Skimming: when you read just enough to understand what the text is about
  • Scanning: when you look for a particular word or piece of information
  • SQ3R is a useful approach to try.


Getting started

  • A list of questions that you need answers to, will help you to stay focussed.
  • Get an overview: read a basic introduction to the topic or a section on the topic in a general textbook.
  • Find specific information in books by checking the contents page, the index, the summaries, the headings and subheadings.
  • Skim read without making notes to get a basic understanding
  • The first sentence of each paragraph usually indicates the point made. This is a good way of following the author's argument.


Make it easier

  • Don't attempt to read all texts; choose 3 to start with and then decide what else you need to look at.
  • Print or photocopy chapters or articles and highlight or underline points. Colour code points so that they link with your assignment plan.
  • Read small chunks at a time and make notes on what you remember.
  • Use a dictionary to look up words you do not understand.
  • Start writing up your first draft before you have finished your reading. This will help you to see where the gaps are and where you need to focus your reading.


Top tips

  • Introductions and conclusions to chapters provide summaries of the writer's key ideas.
  • Take a break; pause, think and absorb what you have read.


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