The workload in graduate school increases and students will discover that they must master two to three times as much material as they did in undergrad. You will also need to read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically. In this context, ‘critical’ means discerning the strengths and the limitations of the work you are studying, so you can engage with it at an appropriate level.
And you’ll agree that this can be very overwhelming for any individual. Thus, one must know or learn how to read effectively as a master’s student.
Effective reading involves understanding the various sections of a book, figuring out the important details in the introduction and conclusion, and knowing how to sum up what you’ve read at the end of each chapter.
Possessing the right reading tips would help you go a long way in surviving grad school. Below are a few tips on how to read as Masters Student
Reading a book for enjoyment is different from reading a graduate school material. When we read for enjoyment, we frequently begin the book at the beginning and read slowly and linearly. It will take twice as long to accomplish this with academic material, and it’s possible that you won’t remember the right information from the reading.
Your responsibility as an academic reader is to gather knowledge from the book you are reading. You should dig in, get the information you need, and move on.
Tips for reading strategically
1. Look through the table of content to see if the material suits you
2. Read the entire Introduction. In academic books, the introduction is where the author states all of their main points, the framework they will use, and an outline of what information will be covered in each chapter.
3. Review the final chapter next. The conclusion restates the author’s key points and frequently places them in a larger context, suggesting future actions, or conjectures about solutions or alternatives. You can go from here to the sections in the book you want to learn more about.
The important elements of the chapter can be quickly skimmed from the beginning and end, and then you can browse the chapter’s middle sections to find supporting evidence. Remember that you are not suppose to read the entire book; rather, your goal should be to comprehend the essential points and arguments made by the author.
You will become a more effective academic reader if you read strategically rather than linearly. Knowing how various writing styles are organized can offer you the assurance and control to locate the information you need in them more quickly.
Take Notes while you Read
It is imperative that you read strategically while taking notes at the same time. If not, you can be sure that you won’t remember the kinds of specifics you’ll need to recall later on for class, your paper, or your research. Create a method that works for you, whether it be noting things as you read on a post-it note stuck to the page in the book or any other method you choose.
To avoid having to track down direct quotations later, be specific, provide thorough citations, and give page numbers.
When you read with purpose, you consider what you want to learn from the text, what you are suppose to know, how this relates to other readings and discussions you have had in class, as well as your own life experiences, as you move strategically through the text.
Below are questions you should bear in mind, while reading;
What is the author attempting to say?
Where was the inspiration for investigation on this subject borne?
How does the study suit my needs?
What academic conversation is the author trying to align with?
What are primary points of contention in this argument?
How does this relate to the other readings I have to do?
By approaching the reading process with these questions in mind, you’ll be more focused and able to get the most relevant information.
Last but not least, putting your reading into a critical perspective will help you place it in larger contexts. Contrary to popular belief, being critical does not always entail being unfavorable or disparaging. When considering who has power and who doesn’t, critical views trace and identify power flows. Who gains from specific social structures, and whom do they marginalize? Assumptions and ideals that are implicit in arguments are also subject to critical perspectives: What moral principles guide this work? What life circumstances and viewpoints do these values benefits? How may the debate or conversation be reframed if we emphasize alternative ideals or experiences? In-depth discussions about your readings will be facilitated by asking questions like these, which is the whole goal of graduate school.
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