badgerdawkins
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I am currently a first year History and Politics student that has just started lectures but I am struggling to get to grips with the amount of reading that needs to be done. I was under the impression previously that when it comes to doing reading especially for essays, you could mostly just skim read books and/or pick out the relevant sections that were necessary but the study guides I am reading are telling me that often you need to read books from cover to cover! As it is, it takes me ages to read a fiction book from cover to cover, so how am I supposed to read a 500 page book written in really flowerly language from cover to cover in a really short space of time! Given that I am doing four modules this term, I am potentially having to read even more books than this.

I am getting into quite a panic at the moment, so I was wondering whether any current or former students could offer any advice. Am I worrying too much about how much I need to read? Are there any techniques for reading faster? Is it worth going to classes on how to read quicker? Surely I can't be the only one in this position, noone could read as quickly as these academics seem to expect to!
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doodle_333
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you will get used to how to read effectively and how to work out what you ACTUALLY need to read, in all honesty I did virtually none of the recommended reading for my course, I only read it if it was interesting or related to an exam/essay (I was a psychology student although I took a couple of politics modules)... on my course at least lecturers tended to give very long lists of reading each week but generally they actually expected you to read a few of them and be a bit selective, you need to find your own sources for things like essays and exams anyway so spending all your time reading things you've been given isn't always the best use of your time

obviously bear in mind I don't know how smart you are or what uni you're at so it might be you need to do extra work or your course just demands a massive workload
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jelly1000
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(Original post by badgerdawkins)
I am currently a first year History and Politics student that has just started lectures but I am struggling to get to grips with the amount of reading that needs to be done. I was under the impression previously that when it comes to doing reading especially for essays, you could mostly just skim read books and/or pick out the relevant sections that were necessary but the study guides I am reading are telling me that often you need to read books from cover to cover! As it is, it takes me ages to read a fiction book from cover to cover, so how am I supposed to read a 500 page book written in really flowerly language from cover to cover in a really short space of time! Given that I am doing four modules this term, I am potentially having to read even more books than this.

I am getting into quite a panic at the moment, so I was wondering whether any current or former students could offer any advice. Am I worrying too much about how much I need to read? Are there any techniques for reading faster? Is it worth going to classes on how to read quicker? Surely I can't be the only one in this position, noone could read as quickly as these academics seem to expect to!
You are definitley panicking too much. No way do you need to read a book cover to cover- you use the index to find out what ever is relevant to that weeks seminar topic or your essay title. And you shouldn't need to read more than 3 or 4 books per seminar per week.
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Lucia2411
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(Original post by jelly1000)
You are definitley panicking too much. No way do you need to read a book cover to cover- you use the index to find out what ever is relevant to that weeks seminar topic or your essay title. And you shouldn't need to read more than 3 or 4 books per seminar per week.
Hi, this is a concern of mine too. I'm doing BA history at the UEA and I'm panicking a bit about the reading too, when to do it and what to read. Obviously it's freshers week this week and I don't start seminars until Monday. Is this something that is covered in seminars and should I not think about reading until then? Thanks
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jelly1000
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(Original post by Lucia2411)
Hi, this is a concern of mine too. I'm doing BA history at the UEA and I'm panicking a bit about the reading too, when to do it and what to read. Obviously it's freshers week this week and I don't start seminars until Monday. Is this something that is covered in seminars and should I not think about reading until then? Thanks
I go to UEA and I've done History modules in the past so I know the way it works. You won't have been expected to do any reading for the first week, no- all it will be is an introduction. After that they will want you to read maybe 3 items per seminar - not a whole book if its listed, just points relevant to that weeks topic. Don't go overboard, there are no exams for the first semester modules so you won't get much out of trying to read loads for seminars, concentrate on essay reading.
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Lucia2411
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(Original post by jelly1000)
I go to UEA and I've done History modules in the past so I know the way it works. You won't have been expected to do any reading for the first week, no- all it will be is an introduction. After that they will want you to read maybe 3 items per seminar - not a whole book if its listed, just points relevant to that weeks topic. Don't go overboard, there are no exams for the first semester modules so you won't get much out of trying to read loads for seminars, concentrate on essay reading.
Thanks a lot! I suppose my main confusion at the moment is reading and essay writing, I've been told that the introductory seminars next week will help with giving me a direction to go down with my reading. It's just all a bit confusing but I'm sure it will become clearer next week. I don't suppose you can tell me something about how the essays are at degree level in relation to A2 level? But thanks, your post has helped a lot
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jelly1000
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(Original post by Lucia2411)
Thanks a lot! I suppose my main confusion at the moment is reading and essay writing, I've been told that the introductory seminars next week will help with giving me a direction to go down with my reading. It's just all a bit confusing but I'm sure it will become clearer next week. I don't suppose you can tell me something about how the essays are at degree level in relation to A2 level? But thanks, your post has helped a lot
Yeah your seminar tutor should recommend certain texts. And the essays are nothing like exam essays and more like A2 coursework- you need to have a clear line of argument backed up by evidence from sources- ideally around 10 books/journals for a typical first year essay referenced using footnotes and with the bibliography at the end.
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Lucia2411
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(Original post by jelly1000)
Yeah your seminar tutor should recommend certain texts. And the essays are nothing like exam essays and more like A2 coursework- you need to have a clear line of argument backed up by evidence from sources- ideally around 10 books/journals for a typical first year essay referenced using footnotes and with the bibliography at the end.
Ok thanks, I thought it looked very similar to the coursework at A level. What week do you start with picking essay questions? And from then on do you do a lot of focused reading around that topic along with the seminar reading?
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jelly1000
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(Original post by Lucia2411)
Ok thanks, I thought it looked very similar to the coursework at A level. What week do you start with picking essay questions? And from then on do you do a lot of focused reading around that topic along with the seminar reading?
When I did Modern in 2011 the essay questions were in the module guide you got in the first lecture- you could choose a question and start working on it whenever you wanted - ineveriably many people left it to the last moment, I spent the two weeks before the deadline on it as it was my first essay- this meant I wrote a bit at a time rather than all at once but its up to you.
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Puddles the Monkey
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(Original post by badgerdawkins)
I am currently a first year History and Politics student that has just started lectures but I am struggling to get to grips with the amount of reading that needs to be done. I was under the impression previously that when it comes to doing reading especially for essays, you could mostly just skim read books and/or pick out the relevant sections that were necessary but the study guides I am reading are telling me that often you need to read books from cover to cover! As it is, it takes me ages to read a fiction book from cover to cover, so how am I supposed to read a 500 page book written in really flowerly language from cover to cover in a really short space of time! Given that I am doing four modules this term, I am potentially having to read even more books than this.

I am getting into quite a panic at the moment, so I was wondering whether any current or former students could offer any advice. Am I worrying too much about how much I need to read? Are there any techniques for reading faster? Is it worth going to classes on how to read quicker? Surely I can't be the only one in this position, noone could read as quickly as these academics seem to expect to!
I did history. You will get better at reading as time goes on. It is all practice! You might be given a long reading list - you usually won't have to read everything that is on it! They're just helpful for giving you a pointer in the right direction.

For weekly readings you will really only need to read the relevant sections/chapters. It often helps to read the overall introductions and conclusion, too, to get a jist of the author's overall argument. Be careful when you read/reference sections you're not taking what the author is saying out of context. By the end of my degree I was pretty adept at storming through an entire book in a day; you definitely get used to it!

Generally speaking though, the more relevant materials you read, the better. So don't skimp out on the reading (after all it's a pretty essential part of history). :yy: I'd advise you to take solid notes when you read which include the author/title/publisher/date/page no. etc so that your life is easy when it comes to references/bibliography.
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