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Information & Advice

...for Students

...for Staff

...on Assistive Technology

Reading

General Tips

If you have trouble reading black words on white paper (blurring, headache, swirling and similar things),, please see the section ‘Vision problems’.

The first thing to do with any article or book is to look right through it. Ask these questions:

Useful starting points.

A book is there to serve you, not to dominate you. It does not have to be read from end to end; you can choose the parts you want.

When you have chosen a chapter by looking through the contents list, go straight to the end of it and see whether there is a summary section. If there is, read that first; it will help you to decide whether the chapter is useful to you. The number of diagrams may help you to get a feel of the writer’s style, or see whether the style of the books suits you.

In a journal article, the abstract (summary of the article) at the start is a good way of getting a picture of what is in the article.  It might help you to talk aloud at the end of each paragraph. Say what you think the paragraph was about. Talking to someone else about a book (or a lecture) can also be a good way of ‘taking it in.’

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Note taking.

SQ3R.

There is a system for reading which is often called SQ3R for short: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.

Survey: look through the whole thing and get the general feel of it.

Question: ask yourself some definite questions, to give a clear purpose to your reading.

Read: choose a section and read it in your own favourite way. This might be 2 or 3 times quickly, or once slowly, for example.

Recite: look up from the book and say what you have got from that section. This might be the stage where you write something down.

Review: look back over the bit you have read and check that you have got it all. Decide whether it answered your questions or was useful in any other way.

 

Different reading strategies.

Have a look at the following table and see whether different approaches to reading might help you at different times:

Strategy

Description

Purpose

Reading for enjoyment.

Variable speed, maybe random skipping.

Pleasure.

Detailed reading.

 

Trying to see every point.

Complete understanding.

Skimming.

Finding out what it is mainly about.

General impression.

Scanning.

Looking quickly for specific details.

Fact finding.

Detecting bias.

Separating fact from fiction.

Making up your own mind.

Analytical reading (e.g. in English).

Examining the style of writing.

Appreciating style and structure.

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Skimming means that you look at:

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Scanning means that you do things like this:

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Ideas for using a photocopier to help with reading:

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Some other reading tips.

If black text on white paper causes you problems, see if you can obtain a coloured plastic overlay. There are several specialist companies that supply them, or ask at your university’s Disability Office.

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