Time management

Reading effectively

Survey and preview

A critical survey of the material in question should quickly identify the most promising areas for initial reading.

The following approach provides a quick way of assessing how useful a piece of writing may be:

  • Read the synopsis first. Does the book/article cover the topic you are interested in?
  • Read any "conclusions" before starting on the main body of the text. This should give you a summary of the arguments put forward and the overall conclusions reached, and may save you hours of detailed reading.Conclusions may be given for the book as a whole, or chapter by chapter.
  • Check the index to locate the relevant sections/chapters.
  • Skim the passage first, looking for key words or phrases. 
  • Pay particular attention to the first paragraph of each chapter, as well as: headings, sub-headings, diagrams and illustrations. This will focus you in on the relevant material.