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Reading Closely

Don't pass your eyes over the pages of a difficult assignment without "getting it." Instead try close reading with a pen in hand so your mind is more active as you read.

  • Mark important sentences and main ideas by underlining or circling. You can only do this if you have considered your perspective as well as the viewpoints of the professor and the author (see the overlapping circles on the first page).
  • Label key concepts, useful definitions, and organizational patterns. Identify "good explanation" and "cause and effect" in the margin or your notes.
  • Annotate the text by "talking back," by responding to the reading based on your needs and goals. Scribble "I'm getting lost here" so you stay mentally active long enough to write later "I think the main point is ...Add your doubts "Isn't the author ignoring..." and your insights "This connects to..."

Close reading may require more time, but it is much more satisfying than reading and re-reading the same material with little comprehension.