- The place of reading. Remember that you are not reading a magazine or newspaper, you will need to be in a place where you can concentrate for a period of time.
- Get the context. If there is an abstract read it to give you a sense of what the text will be about, it might also help to find out something about the author.
- Identify the subject. Read all the way through the text once, not stopping at the pieces or words that you don't understand. I find that despite the fact that I may reach the end of the text feeling quite confused, I might at least perhaps gain a feeling for the subject they are discussing. Then the next time I read it through I don't have to work out what the subject of the text is, I can just concentrate on what this author thinks in relation to this subject.
- Read through the text again but this time stop at the end of a piece (paragraph or sentence) that you don't understand. Re-read that piece. Look up any words that you need to clarify in your mind the meaning of. (Start keeping a glossary of these words).
- Make notes to yourself on/in the text. These notes can direct your attention to the parts of the text that stand out to you. For example, a note I have written in Allen's text from week one says "he begins to talk directly about architecture here".
- Often a paragraph will make one point and then tease this point out further. Try to identify the key point made in each paragraph. Underline this.
- Read through for a third time and this time try to identify the crux of the author's argument. That is, think about describing the text in two or three sentences - what is the most important point the author is making.
by Mortimer J. Adler, Ph.D.