Tips and guidance on effective study - simply choose the links that interest you!
Having an effective reading and notetaking strategy is important. Time spent thinking and planning can save unnecessary work. If you are short of time, ask your tutor if there is any area of the work that you can skip over or read less thoroughly. Then, when you are reading through your study material.
Make sure you think about what you want to achieve and keep the purpose in mind as you read. Is it for an assignment (if so, have the assignment question to hand). Is it for an exam? If so have you mapped out which areas of the curriculum you will focus on? If you are simply working your way through your study materials, check your module guide to see if there are any guiding questions or statements for that particular piece of reading. You may also check the learning outcomes you are expected to achieve for that week.
Once you have an idea of what you are trying to achieve and a general overview of the material, read it in more detail.
Keep a dictionary or your module glossary to hand and look up any terms you don't understand. Accept that sometimes you need to re-read in order to check your understanding, reconsider particular points of interest and to add to your notes.
Be prepared to read in different ways depending on your purpose. Sometimes you might quickly skim and then you can slow down and grapple with the detail to improve your understanding of the topic.
If you find the material boring or frustrating the reading task becomes harder. The best way to handle this is to be actively critical. Ask yourself what makes it unsatisfactory. Consider why you've been asked to read it. See if others are having the same problems with that particular text.
When you are faced with an assignment and you go back to a book to look for something specific (say, a reference to a particular theory) try simply scanning the text for the key words and phrases you are looking for. Also, re-read your original notes and apply the same techiques to those.
Fast reading techniques help you to browse text and extract the key points. Once you have the hang of them you can get through a substantial amount of reading in quite a short time.
Scanning - handy when you're looking for a particular word or phrase within a text or when you want to get an idea of the layout of the text (how many sections, where certain topics are covered).
Skimming - a useful first step before reading more deeply. Here you are reading the words quickly to get a feel for how something is discussed. If you think that the text will be useful to you, you can slow down and read in a more focused way.
Run your eye quickly over the text to locate specific words or phrases that are of interest. You can scan
This will help you decide whether you should read further, and how useful the document might be for your study.
Read quickly to get an overview prior to in-depth reading. Although you may still need to read the entire text, by scanning first you can decide where you want to concentrate your time. Skim the text quickly to
The OU booklet 'Reading and taking notes' gives you further information on this subject.Sign in to read this booklet