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Developing academic English: Develop your reading

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Reading is a core skill for study. You will do a lot of reading for your academic work, so if your reading in English is slow, you may need to allow extra time for study.

When you read for academic purposes, you need different strategies from those used when reading for pleasure. You will need to

  • understand new vocabulary and the style in which your study materials are written
  • identify the main points in a piece of text
  • select the key information relevant to your task or assignment
  • read actively and critically, thinking about the sources of your information and whether there is evidence to back up any arguments that are made

You will find strategies for improving your reading skills in the 'Critical Reading Techniques' section. It gives you tips on how to read with greater purpose and how to critically process what you are reading. There is also a booklet 'Reading and taking notes' which offers some useful guidance.

If you are studying a maths module or a module that contains maths, the 'Reading and Writing Maths' section might help. It gives you some suggestions for coping with the highly technical language.


This activity, from the University of Southampton, will help you practise reading to identify the key points of a piece of text. You will learn how to distinguish between main points and supporting points. You will also practise how to recognise facts and opinions.

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