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The way you read something will depend on your purpose. In  General efficient reading strategies such as scanning to find the book or chapter, skimming to get the gist and careful reading of important passages are necessary as well as learning about how texts are structured in your subject.


Reading is an interactive process. As a reader you are active. Before you start reading try to actively remember what you know, and do not know, about the subject and as you are reading to formulate questions based on the information you have. Title, sub-titles and section heading can help you formulate question to keep you interacting.


A summary is a shortened version of a text. It contains the main points in the text and is written in your own words. It is a mixture of reducing a long text to a short text and selecting relevant information. A good summary shows that you have understood the text.


The following stages may be useful:

  1. Read and understand the text carefully.

  2. Think about the purpose of the text.
    • Ask what the author's purpose is in writing the text?
    • What is your purpose in writing your summary?
    • Are you summarizing to support your points?
    • Or are you summarizing so you can criticize the work before you introduce your main points?

  3. Select the relevant information. This depends on your purpose.

  4. Find the main ideas - what is important.
    • They may be found in topic sentences.
    • Distinguish between main and subsidiary information.
    • Delete most details and examples, unimportant information, anecdotes, examples, illustrations, data etc.
    • Find alternative words/synonyms for these words/phrases - do not change specialized vocabulary and common words.

  5. Change the structure of the text.
    • Identify the meaning relationships between the words/ideas - e.g. cause/effect, generalization, contrast. 
    • Change the grammar of the text: rearrange words and sentences, change nouns to verbs, adjectives to adverbs, etc., break up long sentences, combine short sentences.
    • Simplify the text. Reduce complex sentences to simple sentences, simple sentences to phrases, phrases to single words.

  6. Rewrite the main ideas in complete sentences. Combine your notes into a piece of continuous writing. Use conjunctions and adverbs such as 'therefore', 'however', 'although', 'since', to show the connections between the ideas.

  7. Check your work.
    • Make sure your purpose is clear.
    • Make sure the meaning is the same.
    • Make sure the style is your own.

SQ3R Reading Method

This reading method was developed to help students read with purpose and understand complex information. It is particularly useful to help you get through your weekly set readings.The name comes from the first letters of the activities the student is asked to do in this method:

Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review


  • Skim the title, headings, subheadings, captions,charts, graphs and any other visual material (this gives you a preview of the whole chapter before you read in full).
  • Look for any chapter or weekly tutorial questions, if applicable, (these will provide a focus before you start to read).
  •  Read the introductory and concluding paragraphs and chapter summaries.


  • Turn the title, headings and subheadings into questions (this will focus your attention on what information to look for in that section)

  • Write down any questions you have as you are reading through the content (this helps develop your attention and concentration)

  •  Ask yourself – How does this relate to the unit and what I already know?


  • Try to find answers to the questions you raised.

  • Try to answer the chapter and/or tutorial questions.

  • Pay attention to any underlined, italicized, bold words or phrases and graphic aids.

  • Slow down when reading difficult passages.

  • Break your reading into manageable size chunks.

  • Read small sections at a time and recite after each section.


  •  After you have read each section, ask yourself questions about what you have just read – try to answer in your own words.

  • Underline or highlight important points you have just read.

  • Take notes – use your own words.

  •  In this way you use all your senses to take in the information – SEE, SAY, HEAR, WRITE.


  • This is an ongoing process.

  • Regularly review your notes.

  •  Summarise what you have read at the end of each section.

  • Use concept maps and flash cards to help you remember what you have read.

Taking Notes

Notes  give an overview of the main points of a work and help you to see connections between your topic and other sources. Good note taking:

  • clearly and concisely states the main theme of the resource
  • retains any emphasis or focus placed on the topic by the author
  • omits all unnecessary background information or detail
  • records your views of how the main ideas relate to your topic      

Annotation summarizes the scope and content of a work, and also provide critical comment. Good annotations:

  • clearly and concisely state the main theme of the resource
  • pinpoint any unique content or comment on what the work contributes to the literature on the subject
  • indicate how the work relates to other resources on the subject
  • include a critique of the resource's credibility and appropriateness to your topic
  • identify how the resource builds your understanding of the subject.

 Effective note taking tips

  • record all bibliographic details such as author, date, title, publisher, publication type
  • accurately record page number for each note taken beside the note
  • record keywords, to help organise your information
  • include notes, paraphrasing and summaries
  • include your comments on the text and how it relates to your topic
  • identify relationships to other literature
  • indicate relevance of main points to your topic
  • clearly identify original text and page number/s
  • mark where you have included direct quotes, to avoid accidental plagiarism



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