5 Reading Critically

As you take on a broader range of writing assignments in your classes, it can be helpful to read as a writer, often called reading to write. “Reading to write” means approaching reading material with a variety of tools that help prepare you to write about that reading material. These tools can include things like previewing related assignments or lectures prior to reading, specific note-taking methods while reading, and ways of thinking about and organizing the information after completing the reading.

 As we have learned in the previous chapters of this text, effective reading leads to critical reading. Instead of simply reading for your own purposes, you now will also read to understand the deeper, interwoven meanings layered within a text. Critical reading involves the reader in grappling with the text—interacting with it.

The critical reader digs in and explores a text. They do some or all of the following:

  • They analyze the structure of the piece. What kind of organization does it follow? Where is the thesis? What types of sentences and language are used? How are the paragraphs structured?
  • They analyze the text itself, either exploring its content or its use of rhetoric.
  • They capture the text’s main points by summarizing its meaning.
  • They critique the text, passing judgment on its effectiveness.
  • They reach conclusions (make inferences) about the text.
  • They combine their own ideas with the textual analysis to synthesize new ideas and insights.

Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “Reading Critically” in The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, which is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.

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Advanced English Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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