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Apply Critical Reading Techniques: Start Here

What is critical reading?

  • Critical reading means that you are inquisitive and develop a "critical" approach to what you read. 
  • By reading critically you might look at things like the author's intent and use your knowledge of the subject area to ask questions about the text you are reading.

What questions can I ask to help me read critically?

  • What is the point of the text (thesis, argument)?
  • Who was it written for? Was it written within a specific context (ex. historical, cultural)?
    • Who is the author? What are their interests? Why did they do this research?
  • What framework/ approach does the text use? Consider:
    • What techniques were used?
    • Concepts, theories or methods
  • What evidence is presented?
  • How is the evidence interpreted?
    • Is it supported by other research cited?
    • Is the interpretation logical?

How can I improve my critical reading?

  • Get to know the text. Skim first then read in depth.
  • Read actively. Record your own thoughts on the text and write down questions you have.
  • Annotate the text. 
    • Thesis and main points
    • Key terms or words you need to look up a definition for
    • Questions or comments you have as you are reading
    • Confusing sections / things you want to re-read
  • Break down the text. Consider the evidence, assumptions, sources and potential bias.
  • Avoid emotional reasoning or "gut feelings."
  • Summarize in your own words the thesis and main points.