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Five Tips for Better Reading

Stack of books

I’ve got to confess something. I’m sporting a bit of a tan, even in this fading light, although it’s not from the sun… it’s from the photocopier. I have a Xerox tan.

You know the situation, you’ve got a torts research assignment due so you go to the library to borrow every single law book you can find. You load up your copy card with a small fortune and you photocopy absolutely everything, and then go about the daunting task of reading the mountain of loose pages. We’ve all been there.

Unfortunately they haven’t invented those nifty things from the Matrix that just load knowledge into your brain. Law is all about reading – quite a lot of reading, in fact – but there are a few things you can do to ease the burden…

1. Organise yourself

Some subjects will have a lot more reading than others. In particular, research based subjects will be a lot more reading intensive than more practical subjects. If you can, try to limit the number of subjects with 5,000+ word assignments on your timetable each semester. Avoid doing lots of research-intensive subjects in a semester, unless you want to redirect your mail and do your laundry at the library.

2. Begin with the basics

I know some people are not big fans of abridged legislation or study guides because they think it’s cheating. I think the opposite. Someone has already done the work of highlighting the most important bits for you! Study guides are a good investment as they can help you target your reading to what is most important. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking a study guide is a substitute for doing all your readings.

3. Give yourself time

You need to plan your reading time, notify your housemates that you’re going into conclave, reduce distractions, turn off your phone, unplug the Internet, buy enough study snacks for your academic hibernation, etc. Reading time, is reading time, honour it and use it well, but remember you also need non-reading time too. Give yourself a small break every hour and a large break every couple of hours. Your brain needs to process what you’re learning.

4. Find a great reading spot

Your study area should be well lit, well ventilated, quiet and comfortable.

5. Know when to stop

If what you’re reading starts to make absolutely no sense, it’s time to give your brain a break. Go watch some trashy TV, have a cup of tea, whatever.

Good luck with your readings! I’m off to find some aloe vera gel to ease this Xerox tan, I think I’m going to peel.

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