You will, in formal learning situations like our class, be required to read and critically think about a lot of information from different sources.


It is important therefore, that you not only learn to read critically but also efficiently.


Often, we begin reading with speed reading (but we don’t end there).


Speed reading is also often referred to as skim-reading or scanning. Once you have identified a relevant piece of text, like a chapter in a book, you should scan the first few sentences of each paragraph to gain an overall impression of subject areas it covers. Scan-reading essentially means that you know what you are looking for, you identify the chapters or sections most relevant to you and ignore the rest.


When you speed-read you are not aiming to gain a full understanding of the arguments or topics raised in the text. It is simply a way of determining what the text is about.


When you find a relevant or interesting section you will need to slow your reading speed dramatically, allowing you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the arguments raised. Even when you slow your reading down it may well be necessary to read passages several times to gain a full understanding.


Although you probably already read critically in some respects, here are some things you can do when you read a text to improve your critical reading skills.