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Tips for Reading Challenging Material

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

If you are a student or a professional in the field, we all know that there's tons of reading involved!

You may ask yourself: how do I get through nearly 500+ pages? How can I understand this text when I'm not even interested in the subject? How do I keep from falling asleep in the middle of the text?

You don't have to become a speed reader or feign interest in the text to get the gist or grab the details. Instead, you have to have a plan for your reading. While you definitely should read the book in its entirety, these tips will help you when you are on a time crunch or have trouble digesting the material.

Try to find book reviews or article reviews about the piece. Sometimes others may have already sifted through the details and ironed out the main points. This will help you approach the material with some general understanding, thus making the reading smoother. Additionally, you can YouTube talks about the piece to get multiple perspectives.

As tempting as it is, don't skip the intro. Authors will often break down their thought process, how they approached the work, whether or not it has been revised, and most importantly, lay out what the reader should expect in this section. While the last point is not always a given, it doesn't hurt to look.

Read the first paragraph of the first chapter and then flip to the end of the book to read the last paragraph of the last chapter. This will give you the summary.

After that, make a point to outline the first sentence of each chapter for the thesis. After this, you can scan the chapters for sentences that corroborate or validate those sentences.

Then, if you have time and think you need more of the essence, dive in! Now reading should go much quicker and be easier to understand.

Happy Reading!

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