How to handle the dreaded reading lists

How to handle the dreaded reading lists

Whichever subject you’ve decided to study there will be a ton of reading to do. Your reading list will have several key books/ articles for you to read before each seminar as well as further material for you to dive into. As a first-year student who has probably never had to do this much reading before it may be very overwhelming, especially in your first few weeks at University.

How long should I spend on reading?

How to handle the dreaded reading lists

Depending on what you’re reading for, whether it be for an essay or simply to get some understanding for your week’s seminar, make sure you have enough time for all of your reading.

I would suggest 30 to 60 minutes per source. However, this depends on what you are reading for. If it’s simply to understand your next seminar then 30 minutes should be adequate. Whereas if you are reading for an upcoming essay then 60 minutes would be a more suitable time frame to consider. This gives enough time to read through the book/ article properly and allows you to make some good notes as well.

How to handle the dreaded reading lists

If you are reading for an essay, this can be a particularly useful strategy as it will help you to focus on a particular book. Plus, once that hour is up you can tell yourself that you need to move onto your next reading in order to get a chance to go through all of your relevant reading instead of lingering on that source. What’s more, setting aside roughly an hour per source allows you to estimate how many readings you will be able to do within your given time frame.

How much should I read?

How to handle the dreaded reading lists

Again, this depends on what it’s for. For a seminar, it is suggested that you read at least the key text and possibly one or two additional sources for a stronger understanding. If you are preparing for an essay, it is suggested that you use around five to eight sources, however, it is always best to ask your lecturer in case they have a different expectation.

Although you might have a lot of sources to read, remember that you do not need to recall what each book says from front to back. Read what’s necessary. Your reading is to enhance your understanding, so identify the key arguments/ points that that author has raised. As well as this, for your essay, you will use an average of five quotes from each book/ article. So don’t think that you need to write pages upon pages of notes, only take note of what you think is relevant to your essay or seminar.

How to handle the dreaded reading lists

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How to handle the dreaded reading lists

Lisa Bastow

I am a History student at Keele University.