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Reading Effectively

April 28, 2019

Hey loves!

 

About a month into law school, I realised that the reading technique I was using was not really working. To be honest, using the term 'technique' is making it sound a lot better than it was. I was literally just reading whatever I had to read once and then I took notes on it from my memory and by looking back at anything I highlighted. Long story short, I ended up not focusing on key points of different texts and I got lost by focusing on tiny (often irrelevant) details. 

 

When I realised that this 'technique' was ineffective, I went to a bookstore and bought a few books on studying law. If you guys are interested in which books I found helpful, you can find them all here. After reading a few books on studying law, I developed a reading technique that deserved the term 'technique'.

 

Here is how it works: Before you start reading a paper, look at its tile and ask yourself what you want to get from this paper. Which information is relevant to what you are studying or researching? Which information is key to preparing your notes? 

 

Once you have a goal for reading in mind, read through the paper's introduction, headings, and conclusion. By now, you should be able to summarise the paper's thesis (main argument) in one to two sentences. Do that. This is your short summary of the paper - always make sure you get the thesis of a paper. Your main takeaway from any academic writing is the thesis and the thesis is the shortest and simplest summary of an academic paper that you can create. 

 

Once you have the thesis noted down, decide which of the sections you need to read. Make a conscious decision about what is really needed for what you are studying. If a heading indicates that something is not relevant for your subject, don't read it. Really ask yourself before reading any section whether you really need to read it. Because if you don't need it, there's no point in reading it and summarising it. 

 

For the sections you do need to read, I would recommend taking notes after finishing a section. I would recommend limiting these notes to one to two sentences. This limit ensures that you stick to the main arguments of the sections and that you have grasped the key arguments of a section. 

 

I hope that you found this technique helpful! 

 

Lots of love,

 

Elena

 

 

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