Reading with a Goal

When reading a book or article for academic purposes, you should clarify your goals for reading as well and the scope of the knowledge you hope to gain. 

Reading with a Goal

Sometimes it is not necessary to analyze a piece of writing extensively; a simple, quick reading will give you the gist of a writer’s ideas. At other times, you must devote significant time and attention to a section of writing that is crucial to your goal of understanding.

You will almost always need to read some portions of an author’s work more carefully than other portions. Before you even begin to read, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to learn from this material? 
  • How carefully do I need to read the material to achieve this goal? 
  • What portions can I skim, skip, or come back to if necessary? 
  • Do I even need to read this material at all?

The depth at which you read varies among projects and classes. For systematic theology digests, plan on skimming large volumes of material quickly on the first pass, coming back for more thorough reading of important sections. The same is true for initial research on papers for biblical studies and church history courses. On the other hand, if you know that you will be tested on a specific book, if the professor has called for a close reading of the text, or if you will be writing a response to an assigned reading, then you need to read more slowly and carefully.


Other "Reading Under Pressure" topics:

Reading Under Pressure Home

Reading Quickly

Staying Focused     


Becoming a Demanding Reader Home

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