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General reading strategies

Critical Reading

Exercise 1: Matching strategy to purpose and task


In this exercise you will evaluate Pat’s approach to reading. 

Read the following scenario then complete the exercise below. Indicate whether you agree with the suggested improvements below by clicking either agree or disagree

Pat has put aside 1 hour to read a research paper which is first on her list of references for a report assignment on energy intake and expenditure.  Her purpose is to read every reference so that she is well prepared to write her report.  She has not looked at the other references yet. 

She goes straight to the first page of the article and starts reading the text slowly and carefully.  She is not too familiar with the topic of the article and finds some of the terminology difficult.  When she doesn’t understand a word she looks it up in her subject dictionary but this slows her down and she has to go back and re-read part of the text.  As she reads she highlights everything she thinks is important without taking notes because she does not want to re-read the whole article later. 

Indicate whether you agree with the suggested improvements below by clicking either agree or disagree.  Check your answer by clicking the Answer button.

1. She does not have a clear understanding of her purpose.
Answer ...

She does not clearly understand her purpose. Her purpose should be to SELECT information and ideas from the article to integrate into her report, not read every article on the list in great detail.

2. She should not start reading the first reference on the list without looking at the other references first.
Answer ...

She should look at the whole list of references and decide which ones would be best to start with, according to the information she wants to use in her report.

3. She should start at page 1 and read slowly because she has only 1 hour and doesn't have time to pre-read.
Answer ...

Her strategy of starting on the first page and avoiding pre-reading is not an efficient strategy. She should get an overview of the article first. This will save her time.

4. She should look up every word she does not understand as that is the only way she is going to learn the terminology.
Answer ...

This may not be the best use of her time. She can note some of the difficult words to check later and concentrate in this hour on getting an overview and finding out how much detail she needs to read for her purpose.

5. She should not just rely on highlighting information without taking notes.
Answer ...

Taking notes will help her to remember the content of the article, as she has rewritten ideas in her own words. Simply highlighting without taking notes is not the best strategy.