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OWL - Online Writing Lab: LPTS Reading System

Collection of short tutorials created by ASC, the Academic Support Center staff, to help students successfully execute the writing requirements at Louisville Seminary.

Getting the Most from It

L ook carefully over the text before you begin reading.
P eruse the reading carefully.
T ake time to think about what you have read.
S tudy the material every day so that you will retain more.

The LPTS Reading System in Detail

Look carefully over the text before you begin reading.

  • Read anything in bold print.
  • Read all titles, headings, and subheadings.
  • Ask, “Do I know anything about this already?”
  • Examine how the material is organized
  • Look at any pictures or graphs.
  • Find out who the author is and when the article was written.
  • Look for glossaries, indexes, concordances, or other extra-textual aids.
  • Read the introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • If there is a summary, read that.

Ask yourself questions.

  • What is this about?
  • Why am I reading this?
  • Why did the professor choose this particular article?
  • How does this reading fit into the course?
  • This step should take 5 to 10 minutes and you will begin reading with an overall idea of what the reading is about and the reason that this particular text was chosen because you will start with some pre-knowledge. You will begin reading knowing about 10-15% of the material.

Peruse the reading carefully

Read purposely and deliberately—“I’m going to focus the next 30 or so minutes reading the first chapter of Augustine.”

  • Give your full energy to reading— no TV, no phone, no beautiful cloud formations. Go to the library if you need to.
  • This is exhausting so never read longer than 50 to 60 minutes at a time. Any longer is wasted. Take a break.
  • Interact with the text. Studies differ, but personally, I like to underline and write in the margins. (Don't do this in library books!) If you do this be careful not to underline everything. When you go back, it will be impossible to point out what you thought was of the most importance. Don’t be too neat (e.g. using a ruler to underline!) because it interrupts your reading flow.
  • Other equally valid studies suggest not to take notes of any kind while you read, as the time spent tends to break your concentration. Rather, stop for just a minute every 10 or 15 to jot down marginal notes or to underline important information, taking a longer break once every hour.
  • Try both of these techniques and decide which one works best for you.
  • Don’t stop to look up words in the dictionary. Almost always the word is written again in another way or you will be able to get a sense of the meaning through the text. You must not interrupt the flow of your reading. Mark the unknown word and look up the connotation later. If you still don’t understand ask a classmate or your professor.
  • Reduce your speed for very difficult passages.
  • Try not to go back and reread a passage unless you just must. Again this will stop the flow and chances are the information will be discussed again. Do mark this section so you can go back if you still need to.
  • This part should take 50 to 60 minutes. Doing this step will increase comprehension level to about 90%.

Take time to think about what you have read

This step may be the last in the actual reading process, but is just as important as the others.

  • Sit for a few minutes and actually think about what you’ve read. Think about how the reading fits into your class work, the goals of the class, or your research. Actually take the time to think and pull this information together. Closing the book and saying, “Well, I’m sure glad that’s over” negates all your hard work.
  • Write in a journal (relax, this is for you, not a grade) what you understand from this reading. Summarize the material. You can just write phrases if you want but put enough information that you will be able to look at the notes and recall what you were thinking.
  • In your journal, record any ideas that you would like to know more about. These are great resources to begin brainstorming for future papers. Also, these are great issues to bring up in class.

These three steps should bring you close to a 100% comprehension level.

Study the material every day so that you will retain more.

  • If you have taken the time to summarize the main ideas and pertinent details in a journal, daily review of that material will greatly enhance your retention.
  • Studies show that students frequently waste time between classes. Because learning is most effective immediately following a lecture or learning activity, students should try to use breaks between classes for review.