Reading guide: Questions to ask yourself as you read

The reading guide is designed to help you read more efficiently and effectively by focusing your attention on what to look for anytime you read anything (for any course or research paper).

Eventually, you won’t need the reading guide because you’ll have begun to automatically ask yourself these kinds of questions as you read.

How to use the reading guide

There are no rules! Answer the questions that are relevant/useful to you or add your own questions. Your answers can be short, long, sentence form or point form.

  • What kind of reading is it? (i.e., what discipline or genre? For who?)
  • In one (or two) sentences, what is the main point?
  • How is the reading structured/organized? (i.e., chapters? sections with headings?)
  • What are the author(s)’s problems? Questions? (i.e., what does the author(s) want to know?)
  • If you are researching, what are your research questions guiding the reading? (i.e., what do you want to know?)
  • Are there any important keywords or words you don’t understand? Look up meanings where needed.
  • Are there important sentences or passages? Try to paraphrase these in your own words.
  • What are the author’s main arguments/solutions/conclusions?
  • If you are researching, how does the author aid or address your research questions/problems?
  • Why is the reading of value? What does it contribute? How does it help you with your research?
  • What issues are raised when compared to how others address/shed light on your guiding questions/problem? Think about the reading in relation to other readings.
  • Try consulting additional resources for context:
    • Who is the author? What view do they have?
    • What time period was it and what was happening during the writing?
    • What geographic location?
    • What are the author’s influences?   
    • Are there controversies and criticisms?

Work Consulted: Mortimer, Adler J. and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. New York: Touchstone Book, 1972. Print.

Thanks to Jennesia Pedri, SLC Graduate Facilitator for drafting this content, March 2019.