Approaches to academic reading

Follow this link to the materials for a fall 2022 workshop on academic reading strategies. You will find a handout describing the PILLAR method for academic reading. It’s less important to follow the steps precisely. It’s more important to have a set of steps that you can apply to your reading assignments.

The most important point about managing your college reading load is to think of it in terms of time rather than pages. Figure out how much time you have available and then work to build the best picture of a text that you can in that time.

Starting from the first page and trying to read straight through is probably not the best approach (although there are exceptions–a short story for example). It is better to get a quick sketch of the whole text and then choose sections to focus on. If you start from the beginning and run out of time halfway through the reading, it can be stressful to participate in class because you don’t know what the rest of the text says.

If you are preparing for a class discussion, it’s usually better to be an “expert” in a couple sections of the reading and then have a general sense of the rest of the reading–come prepared with comments, questions, and connections on your section, if that’s all you have time for. If you have to do more than that–write a response paper, for example–you can add to your “sketch” of the reading as part of your writing process.

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