The 8 Ways to Read at University

As the dawn of a new university year looms you only need to glance in the direction of your bookshelf to note the pile of books and workload behind the summer photos. From Freshers to final years, every degree is going to need to catch up on that must have summer reading. Therefore Impact Arts breaks down the 8 ways to blast through, with their respective effectiveness.

1)      The Smart Read – 10/10 effective

This is the best way to get that reading done. The one in which you knew what had to be read and have therefore carefully balanced and read everything before arriving at that first lecture. And whilst being the most effective, this will definitely be the method which most people will have ignored. Who wants to spend a holiday reading course books anyway?


2)      The Mathematical Read – 8/10 effective

This is often the way people justify reading books, stating a progress report until finish. But the smarter mathematicians out there will balance page numbers against days remaining, therefore equally sharing the load out. This does mean that there is no massive sprint to the end, but does have issues. Firstly people will often miss days resulting in an unwanted build up, and then a calculation of 1 day = 1 book. Moreover for pre-20th century literature or non-fiction textbooks chapters will often be unequal, meaning you will end up leaving mid-text or chapter.


3)      The Skim Read – 7/10 effective

The skim read is a skill which you either can do or you can’t do. Whilst some will easily identify key passages and colour the pages with corresponding highlighters, others will be left trailing, reading the same sentence over and over. If perfected, the skill is hugely transferable and can save you huge amounts of time in the future, but again is difficult. Moreover as a first read-through the process can be troublesome as you are completely blind to what you are meant to be noticing, thus why it should be saved for revision.


4)      The Selective Read – 6/10 effective

By far the most manageable solution, especially for Arts students, the selective read combats against sheer quantity of books which would be impossible for even the most hardened reader. Therefore people will often identify key chapters or text which will be essential and discount the rest. After all if you are not using 80% of the work why waste precious time?  This can save huge effort but loses marks as it comes with the biggest risk factor. If part of that 80% resurfaces or a bad question arises, there is no turning back.


5)      The Nearly There Read – 5/10 effective

Much like the selective read, this a solution which you can justify to yourself making it the most self-gratifying. Having read 50% then you have just enough knowledge to pass, but not enough to excel or show-off. This apparently ideal solution can however leave huge gaps in knowledge especially for fiction readers, as the conclusion does matter. But as a method, it is better than nothing, so lands squarely halfway.


6)      The Internet Read – 4/10 effective

The favourite technique, and possibly the most widely used. With internet access providing  all the information you would ever need a click away. Sites have used such laziness to their benefit, specifically Wikipedia and Sparknotes. They can summarise the information into themes, key ideas, quotes and secondary information, easily displayed for maximum retention. The problem? Apart from being universally hated by all tutors and labelled as ‘cheating’, the information can be tampered with, or completely irrelevant, leaving you vulnerable to scrutiny and accusations of plagiarism.


7)      The T.V Read – 2/10 effective

This method is again a favourite among students, with claims that watching the film is basically the same as reading the book. It isn’t. It really isn’t. To be fair many films do follow texts, some extremely well, but they are not substitutes. This method does have an elegant and rather arrogant ease to it, but it will leave huge issues especially when quoting or recalling secondary plotlines which have been removed. Also when the film has been considerabley altered, it can leave certain individuals looking like an absolute idiot – The Great Gatsby, The Crucible and Romeo and Juliet to name but a few.


8)      The Don’t Read – 0/10 effective

How important can that book really be? Do I need to do well in this module? Can I wing it? These questions will go through everyone’s head at one point or another during their degree. This depends on the person you are. If you have the ability to work around questions that is fine or if you are happy settling with less work and lower marks the method is first-class. In terms of effectiveness it still has to be a 0, but maybe sadly, the one which many will adhere to when push comes to shove.


James Hamilton

Follow Impact Arts on Facebook and Twitter

ArtsArts Features

Leave a Reply