What is Critical Reading, and Why Must Students Do ItJanuary 31, 2020

If thinking of essay writing strategies would be challenging enough, then you must master the art of critical reading. It's not a skill, which you would learn after rereading the Harry Potter series. Universities are expecting incoming first-year students to have an idea of it, if not they have applied it while composing their application essay. Incoming Literature majors must do more than that, which doesn't mean to scare them. What is critical reading?

Critical reading is trying to understand the author's ideas (or feelings), even if it's not directly stated in the novel. It's one way of looking at it, which you should have guessed after reading your favourite classics. Some might be unaware of it, and they would need to loaf, if not indulge in a series of activities, before they realise it. This takes some time, which is rather normal for most young people. We're living in an iPad generation, and education academics would say that the current generation of teenagers, who can't live without gadgets, need to be bored from being online most of the time. It's vital to learning, prompting them to learn some problem-solving skills along the way. It sounds like a solution to a math problem, so you wonder how it's linked to critical reading. You should have guessed it immediately.

A Queensland principal learned that students must spend twenty minutes a day on reading for pleasure, and the list of titles must not be limited to Young-adult fiction, graphic novels, and non-fiction. Screen reading is also discouraged, as this would prompt some students to resort to skim reading. Keep in mind that this principal came to this conclusion after observing the reading habits of girls aged seven to nine, so it's safe to say that it would be the same with teenagers. Not a few teens wouldn't pay attention to this study, as they wonder if it’s wise to defer their entry to the university and make the most of their gap year. They would be tempted after reading a news report of how the bushfires exposed extensive water channels older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. If you happen to be one of those teens, then you better hold that thought until next summer. (You can ask your parents about your next summer getaway, and promise that you would do well on your first year in the university.) You must know how to write a long essay in a few hours or less instead of dreaming of a holiday in India while studying the generations-old grassroots industry. Where to next?

3 Easy Ways to Become a Better Learner

Work on short-term and long-term goals. The term won't start soon, so you still have the time to look for techniques that would help you understand critical reading. Read a variety of books by authors whom you hardly know of. If you want to challenge yourself, choose a literary genre that you don't fancy at all. It would take several books, if not a dozen chapters or less, before you can guess the author's idea or two. This is your short-term goal, as your long-term goal is your familiarity with several genres before the start of the term. If it’s too much, read lots of books. You must become a heavy reader before the beginning of the term.

Are you aware of your thoughts and feelings? You won't be able to write well if you don't have the faintest idea of your thoughts and feelings. It should help you spend more time on browsing for the right word (or phrase) in the (online) thesaurus. You may have trepidation about vocabulary, but this is not the right time to ask some questions about it. You're not expected to agree with what a certain author thinks (or feels), as literary criticism is an attempt to translate the author's ideas (or feelings) into visuals. It's one way of looking at it, and reading should enable you to know the other ways.

Ask yourself. Metacognition is a process where students would build awareness, understanding, and control of their thought process. Reading should enable you to ask yourself if this particular book remind you of another reading material that you read in the past, if not skim a few chapters. After reading several chapters or more, you would have ideas. You won't be certain of it until you reach the final chapter. There are many instances that it won't be the case during the term, so you must make a hard guess. Will your guess lead to the right conclusion? The answer to this question would be known after your professors have marked your papers. You would decide on a different course, if not analyse what you did right. It might be the same case on your next assignment. It’s not too early to do a mock exercise on it, and ask your parent, if not your sibling, to act as your instructor.

Talking Through your Thoughts

You don’t have to be afraid of other students seeing you talking to your thoughts. Some won’t care at all, and you would have an advantage if you resort to this method. It should guarantee removal of ambiguity in your arguments, as talking would tap into your knowledge of the books you read, experiences included. But don’t do it during an examination.

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