Written by Liem Nguyen
LLM International Commercial Law
We do not wait until we’re studying for a Master’s to start reading; we already read a lot whilst studying at undergraduate level or even long before that. So why is the importance of reading particularly emphasized at postgraduate level? What makes PG reading different than that of undergraduate study?
The main differences are the amount and depth of reading. Reading at postgraduate level is not just about reading the materials and remembering the info; it is not “mere” reading but “critical” reading. This means that you should read, think and reflect upon what you have just read. It is about forming your analytical thinking and your academic opinions.
PG study requires a great deal of dense and complex reading; you will never be able to read everything available. As a result, you should know how to read efficiently and effectively in order to deal with the reading workloads. So how? Below are some useful tips to help you to keep up with PG reading.
- Organize your reading
First you should know which reading is the most essential. For example, you should read what is mandatory for a class first, focusing on what is important for you know in order to be able to participate in class discussions. You should be able to pick out the most prioritized books/articles from the reading list. You can also ask your professors which are the most relevant reading materials for you to focus on.
When accessing a particular reading material, use the abstract or introductions to see if it is appropriate for your studies. Alternatively, you could read conclusion or summaries to make such a decision. Afterwards, select the most useful and valuable articles/materials for more in-depth reading and leave any others for later. And remember that you are never going to be able to read all the recommended materials so you must know which are your priorities.
When you read, you should think about your reading purpose: to enhance your knowledge and understanding of your course subject. You may use some of your readings for your assignments, reports or exams. Therefore, it is always good to make notes of your reading: key points of the article and other relevant information.
- Tips for effective reading
At postgraduate level, you should read smarter, not harder. In order to do that, remember the following rules:
- Learn the terminology, scan and skim. That way you will be able to understand the most important thing quickly without wasting time on any unnecessary things.
- Do not read when you are too tired, too bored or not focused. Go and have a rest, chill and start again later.
- Clearly set out what you want to achieve from your reading and set a deadline for it.
- Do not just read – think and analyze too. Take notes of your reading and review and update them as your knowledge expands.
- Don’t want exhausted eyes? Then you can listen to audio books, educational podcasts, lecture videos and talks for a refreshing change.
A passion for reading is all that you’ll need in order to survive the reading load and get the most out of it. Do not just read the recommended lists, find something else that really interests you. This will motivate you to keep up with the reading and ultimately enjoy it.
Reading at a PG level may sound scary at first but once you know the tricks, I am sure you will survive it and hopefully even enjoy it at the end. Good luck, smart readers!