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Critical Reading


Critical Appraisal and Analysis (Cornell University Library)
This page includes questions for your initial appraisal and content analysis of a text. Initial appraisal questions relate to the text’s author, date of publication, edition, publisher and journal title. Content analysis questions address the intended audience, objectivity, evidence, style and critical reviews.

Critical Reading (Writing@CSU)
“Exhibiting an inquisitive, “critical” attitude towards what you read will make anything you read richer and more useful to you in your classes and your life. This guide is designed to help you to understand and engage this active reading process more effectively so that you can become a better critical reader.”

What is Critical Reading? (Daniel J. Kurland)
This page covers facts vs. interpretation and the reasons it is important to read critically.


So You’ve Got a Writing Assignment. Now What? (Corrine E. Hinton, WAC Clearinghouse) (PDF)
In this chapter from Writing Spaces: Readings on Writings, Volume 1, you will find “guidelines for interpreting writing assignments” including specific questions to ask yourself as you work through understanding an assignment.

Understanding Assignments (UNC Chapel Hill, The Writing Center)
“The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our online demonstration for more tips.”

Understanding Your Assignment (Vanderbilt University, Writing Studio) (PDF)
On this handout, you’ll find questions to help you better understand your assignment. Questions relate to the purpose of the assignment and the audience, evidence, formatting and style for your paper.


Annotating Texts (UNC Chapel Hill, The Writing Center)
Tips for effective annotating .

Critical Reading Strategies (University of Minnesota, Center for Writing)
Reading effectively requires approaching texts with a critical eye: evaluating what you read for not just what it says, but how and why it says it. Effective reading is central to both effective research (when you evaluate sources) and effective writing (when you understand how what you read is written, you can work to incorporate those techniques into your own writing). Being an effective reader also means being able to evaluate your own practices, working to develop your critical reading skills.

Critical Reading and Writing (SUNY Empire State College, Online Writing Center)
“The handouts and worksheets listed and linked to here are intended to help students learn to read critically and thoughtfully.” They can help you take better notes, interpret texts based on the author’s rhetorical choices, evaluate texts, and write critical responses.

Guide to Reading Primary Sources (Univ. of Pennsylvania, Office of Learning Resources)(PDF)
This guide defines a primary source, explains how reading primary and secondary sources is different and offers strategies for reading primary sources.

Playing the Believing and Doubting Games (Seton Hall University)
Peter Elbow’s believing and doubting games can allow you to better read and interpret arguments by siding with and siding against different points of view. This chart shows you what to look for when approaching the text from the believing and doubting angles.

Poetry: Close Reading (Purdue OWL)
“Once somewhat ignored in scholarly circles, close reading of poetry is making something of a comeback. By learning how to close read a poem you can significantly increase both your understanding and enjoyment of the poem. You may also increase your ability to write convincingly about the poem. The following exercise uses one of William Shakespeare’s sonnets (#116) as an example. This close read process can also be used on many different verse forms. This resource first presents the entire sonnet and then presents a close reading of the poem below. Read the sonnet a few times to get a feel for it and then move down to the close reading.”

Reading Critically (Harvard University, Harvard Library)
Harvard University suggests six reading strategies: previewing, annotating, outlining, finding patterns, contextualizing and comparing/contrasting.

The Writing Process: Annotating a Text (Hunter College, Rockowitz Writing Center)
This handout discusses the goals of annotating and explains what types of notes you should be making on the page. A sample annotated text is also included with its own system of annotations: plain, bold, and italicized font to indicate descriptions, main ideas, and commentary.