Reading: Learn to Love It
For my course, at least, reading is a big part of the course. For each of my law subjects I have 30-50 pages of reading per week so I’m generally reading about 100 pages of cases and theory. I struggled with this to start off with but I’ve found this year that it’s not as hard as it sounds or seems. So here are seven tips that help me keep (reasonably) up-to-date with my readings. If anyone else has got any ideas let me know.
1. Start the reading. Chances are if you start, you’ll keep going. Just say “I’ll read two cases/pages/topics and then see how you feel at the end – chances are you’ll look at what you’ve got left and realise it’s not that hard to keep going.
2. Make it into a game with yourself. “I bet I can read the next four cases/pages/topics before bed/dinner/class/Law and Order. Chances are you’ll be sitting there reading looking at your watching hoping that your lecturer is running late or that Law and Order won’t start until fifteen minutes after it was supposed to.
3. Read a little bit at a time or all at once depending on what works for you. Personally I like to read everything in a big block for some classes and slowly in bits and pieces for others. This is why I take notes on lose-leaf paper – it allows me to work on what I like when I like without having to leave space to finish the reading so I can take notes on a lecture.
4. Read when you work best. Me, I’m a morning person so I wake up at 5:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings to read. This works well for me and I can head off for my 9:00 lecture having done 2-2.5 hours work. If you’re a late night person and you’ve got late lectures, try doing your reading late at night. Chances are there’ll be fewer distractions and you’ll be more productive.
5. If you miss a week’s worth of reading skip it and move on. This is the number one thing I learnt after my initial struggles. If you get slack one week, don’t feel like working, have a killer assignment due or whatever then just skip it and move on. When you go back to study later you can always catch up by reading summaries, borrowing a friends notes or doing the reading if you’ve got the time.
6. Know what you have to read and when you have to read it! Each week have a look at your reading guides – know what will be covered in that week’s lectures and what you have to read. You can’t read it if you don’t know what you have to read. When you read something cross it off on your reading guide (so you can still read underneath it, however). This means that you know it’s been read and you won’t accidentally read it again because you can’t find your notes or can’t remember reading it. If you’re crossing out you can also write next to anything you don’t understand that you need to re-read it. Often things will make more sense after a bit of time and when studying you can note that you didn’t understand and go back and make sure you do now. Make your reading guide into a tool to guide your study.
7. Use highlighters. When you’re reading it’s easy to see the key points but when you go back it’s a lot harder to find what’s important amongst the sea of blue and red ballpoint pen. If you highlight topic titles, key points and the like with highlighters or a different coloured pen. Use stars, boxes, exclamation marks etc. and make sure you can find the important stuff when you need to.
These are just a few tips that helped me. I hope they’re useful for you too and if anyone’s got any of their own tips (especially for sciences or IT subjects which I know nothing about) then e-mail me or leave a comment.