23 Sep 2012

How to manage reading at university


I finished a book today. I did not read it for pleasure, I read it because it is compulsory for my module; 'Nineteeth-Century Russian Fiction' (don't ask, I don't know why I picked it). I was racking my brain for ideas for a blog post and thought: 'great, I'll do a book review, no wait, no-one cares about Alexander Pushkin, not even me and I'm taking this bloody course'. So instead of boring you with the trials of Eugene Onegin, I thought I would write a post called 'how to manage reading at university', because lots of people have just started, and might be stressing out about how their going to cope with the step up from a-levels to university. 
Whether or not you are taking English Literature like me, the amount of reading is going to increase. By a lot. And your professors will hand it out to go as if it's no big deal, and if you're anything like me you will panic that you cannot work independently yet. So here are some tips: 
1. Read straight after a lecture or seminar, as you will still be in that learning mindset. Then it is done for a while and you can relax. 
2. Read aloud. This has seriously helped me, as I read way too fast. When each sentence is written to frighten your a-level brain into a frenzy, you need a little longer to process it. Probably don't do this in the library. 
3. Don't worry that you are spending half the time looking up words and concepts you don't know. At the beginning of my first year I would skip words I didn't understand and wouldn't look up references because I felt I was against the clock and that would waste time. But that is the important bit, it is putting in that extra time that will give you an edge and set you up for coursework and exams. 
4. Don't put it off. If you have a 56-page essay in front of you, or a 800-page novel (this happened, I died), don't let yourself feel daunted. This is still my biggest fault. Instead, look at the number of pages, and how long you have to read it, and calculate how many pages that is each day. That seems super OCD, but you aren't reading for pleasure, as sad as it is, you are reading for a deadline, and so you may just have to be a bit anal about it. 
5. If you simply aren't going to get it all done, my tip would be to look ahead to the coursework or exam that the module is leading up to. Most of the time, you can find out the titles for your coursework in advance, and if you can get away without reading absolutely everything, then do it, because you won't take anything in if you are completely stressed out about how much you have to read. 

I hope this helps a few people who are in a stress-fest about the jump from a-levels to university, or simply about getting all the reading done in the time.
Have fun and don't work too hard! 

6 comments:

  1. Good tips, I still find organising my reading very challenging (to say the lease..). I still find it really hard to take in what I'm reading too, so taking notes whilst I read or highlighting key passages is really helpful!

    Robyn Mayday
    xx

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    1. Oh of course I should have said to highlight! Thanks for the comment Robyn :)

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  2. Really good tips! I'm just going into my second year and have so much to read, I'm definitely going to work out how many pages a day in a minute, thats such a good idea!
    Courtney
    xx
    www.overtherainbow-xo.blogspot.com

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    1. It's really helpful, otherwise I just guess that I'm doing well and never get the reading done! All about the little goals :)

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  3. Oh, the irony that I'm reading this post in order to put off reading The Faerie Queene! Really great tips here, though, and I may have just been guilted into doing my damn reading, haha!

    Emily Wears Things
    xx

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    1. Oh dear, I just realised I did the same thing, wrote 'don't put it off', whilst using it to put off my own reading hahaha, well I didn't say I figured it out just yet...

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