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Reading for Study

Most young people sit down to study and commence to read in the same manner as they would if they were going to read a new John Grisham mystery or an old Larry McMurtry western. The first thing that you need to realize is that reading for study can and should be different from reading for pleasure. You will recall that early in our discussions we talked about the written word being presented in a lineal thought structure. Sentences are arranged in paragraphs with a common theme. Sentences within these paragraphs have subjects and verbs that denote something relative to the subject. Understanding this structure can help you use it to your advantage and save some time.

When starting to study a particular chapter of a text, start at the end of the chapter and look for a chapter summary. If you find one always read it first. This will give you a clearer idea of what the chapter contains and how far it goes with regard to a certain discussion. You then can go back and start through the chapter with a better expectation of what to look for to fill in the gaps of missing information that the summary did not contain.

When you start to read the chapter, look at it paragraph by paragraph. Look at the first paragraph and look for the subject of the first sentence. This will usually give you the topic of the whole paragraph. Then you can look for the verbs that indicate the action on the subject. Highlight these words. Don't bother with all of the adjectives and conjunctions and other parts of speech. You are looking for the subject of the sentence and the action words associated with it. Do this for each sentence in the first paragraph. Then look at the words you highlighted. You will have an idea of what the paragraph was all about. Now write down in your notes what that paragraph purported to explain in your own words using as few as possible. Now go back and read the paragraph. Did the meaning of the paragraph change after you read it? If you correctly identified the subject and the action words there should be little difference between what you wrote on your note pad and what you got out of the paragraph when you read it word for word. If you found this to be true, you are on the right track. From here on you shouldn't need to go back and read each paragraph word for word. Now tackle the second paragraph.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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