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How to Read for Grad School

Take notes!

While reading strategically, make notes simultaneously. Otherwise, you may lose track of the information you're mining from the text that you will need to contribute to class discussion, write your paper, etc. 

Develop a system of note-taking that works for you. Try a few strategies and determine which fits your style of learning and retaining information. Some options:

  • Keep a notebook out next to your course reading where you can jot down important or interesting points.
  • Highlight and make notes in the margins of the reading. You could do this physically with a book or printed article, or digitally if you're using an ebook platform or PDF reader. *Only write in your own books, not the library's books!*
  • Make use of a citation/reference manager that allows you to save bibliographic information as well as take notes/highlight on electronic documents like PDFs. 

Whichever method of notetaking you choose, make sure to be specific and mark down page numbers alongside direct quotations so you can refer back to the source.

If you are reading a book or article for class, try to jot down 3-5 observations or provocations from the text that you can use for class participation. As a graduate student you will be expected to participate at a high level and demonstrate engagement with the material. Also, if you are required to write Populi discussion posts about what you've read, then having these 3-5 ideas/concepts to work off of will be very helpful.

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Chicago, IL 60601

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