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Reading strategies: A short guide


Where and when to read

  • At what time of day is your concentration at its best?
  • Do you set aside regular time slots in which to read, or do you squeeze in your reading when you are not doing anything else?
  • Do you try and read every day?
  • Where do you like to read?
  • How much background noise do you need?
  • Do you take regular breaks?
  • Do you read so much that you do not leave yourself enough time to write your essay?

Read the sections of this guide on Creating the right environment and our guide on Time management 

See our guide to Evaluating information 


Engaging with the text

  • Do you understand the difference between skimming, scanning and reading critically?
  • How much do you really engage with the text?
  • Do you ask yourself ‘Why am I reading this'?
  • Do you check the meaning of unfamiliar words?
  • If you do not understand something do you try to read about it in other sources?
  • Do you read a variety of sources to get different viewpoints?
  • Do you get distracted by adverts, links and clickbait?
  • Do you evaluate a source before reading it i.e. who wrote it, why it was published and what are the author’s credentials?
  • How critical are you of things you read on the internet?
  • Do you share with others about what you are reading or have read?

Read the sections of this guide on Scanning and skim reading, Engaging with the text and Different Kinds of text.


Note taking

  • What kind of notes do you take when reading?
  • Do you re-visit your notes regularly? How regularly do you do this?
  • Do you keep a reading log? 

Read the section of this guide on note taking and Keep a reading log


Using ResourceLists@Bham

  • How do you react to a long ResourceList or bibliography?
  • Do you understand how you are expected to use your lists?
  • Has your Tutor laid out the list in a clear and well-structured way with notes to guide you?
  • If your list has not been categorised into essential, recommended and background reading, can you work out in which order you should read items?
  • Do you use ‘reading intentions’ to manage your reading?

Read our Guide to ResourceLists@Bham

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