Critical reading requires a person to be actively engaged in the materials they read. The goal of this reading is to understand the ideas of the author clearly and then question and evaluate their arguments or supporting evidence. After that, the reader forms their opinions about what they have read.
This kind of reading is a skill that requires you to do more than consume information passively. However, you get more from any material you read once you develop this skill. A critical reader believes that any text presents more than a single portrayal of all facts. One portrayal is on the take of an individual and the other is on the subject. Therefore, a critical reader recognizes more than the plain message conveyed by the text. They also consider the portrayal of the subject matter by the text.
Critical readers consider every text as a unique creation of an author. For instance, a non-critical reader can read a history text to learn facts about a situation. That means they accept the generally accepted interpretation of facts about an event. On the other hand, a critical reader will read a similar text to appreciate a specific perspective of a historical event. They will also appreciate the ability of the author to select certain facts to shape the understanding of the readers.
What is Critical Reading?
People can use different words to define critical reading. But, critical reading is the process of studying an author’s work beyond understanding the text. When a person reads critically, they apply certain models, processes, questions, and theories to enhance comprehension and clarity.
What differentiates this reading from skimming is that it involves more effort. The goal is to understand everything about the text. Skimming is largely superficial while reading critically entails going deeper to understand the details of a text. A critical reader studies the tone, logical consistency, and organization of the work.
The critical reading definition describes it as a process that requires time and effort. Thus, this is not something you do quickly the same way you skim through a document.
What Does Critical Reading Mean?
This kind of reading is an essential precursor to critical thinking and writing. But, what does it mean to read critically? Here is what the art of critical reading entails:
- Careful consideration and evaluation of the reading
- Identification of the implications and strengths of the reading
- Identification of the reading’s flaws and weaknesses
- Looking at the work from a larger picture to decide how it fits into the academic context
- Examining the presented argument or evidence
- Checking out the limitations of the focus or design of the study
- Checking out the influences on the presented arguments or evidence
- Examining the author’s interpretations
- Deciding on the extent to which you will accept the opinions, conclusions, and arguments of the author
Essentially, you actively respond to what you read. This kind of reading is important in every stage of your academic study or book report writing. However, it’s more important when it comes to critical reading and writing. That’s because you will be required to read and critique other people’s work in your writing.
How to Improve Critical Reading Skills?
If you want to become a critical reader, you must acquire critical reading skills first. You can acquire these skills by attending college lessons or using online tutorials and guides. Once you’ve acquired the skills, you should sharpen them by practicing. Here are tips to help you improve critical reading skills.
- Consider the Background of What You Read
Before thinking about the argument of the author, build a background picture. Ask questions like:
- Who’s the author?
Who is the target audience?
- Into which category does the source fit?
- When was this text written?
Such questions will help you to determine the background of the text.
- Who’s the author?
- Consider the Purpose of the Work
When you have the larger picture of the work, you can bring the pieces together to see how they fit. Ask these questions to determine the purpose of the work.
- What’s the main argument or claim in the work?
- What are the key implications of this claim?
- How is the text structured?
- Consider the Evidence Used in the Text
Does the author provide evidence to support their claim? Evaluate the evidence because it relates to the purpose or usefulness of the text. Ask these questions when evaluating the evidence:
- Is the presented evidence research, fact, personal experience, or opinion?
- How accurate is the presented evidence?
- How relevant is the evidence to the conclusion?
- How appropriate is the theory for the topic?
- Evaluate the Used Methodology
You need to understand different research methods when developing critical reading skills. That’s because if you’re reading a text whose basis is research, you have to consider the effects of the used methodology on the finding’s validity. Here are some of the questions to ask when evaluating methodology:
- Is the study quantitative or qualitative?
- Is the study falsifiable?
- Can the research be replicated?
- Could the researchers have used better research methods?
- Evaluate the Logic
Examine the reasoning chain of the author. That’s because problems or gaps in the reasoning chain can undermine their conclusion’s validity. Here are the questions to ask when evaluating logic.
- Does the author define all the key terms
- Is there a logical flow in the work?
- Can you identify reasoning flaws in the work?
- Check Balance
Critical reading meaning describes it as the practice of exercising judgment about the work of another person by not taking what you read at the face value. To exercise this judgment, you should consider whether the presented argument is properly balanced. This entails looking at the problem or issue from different relevant perspectives. Here are the questions to ask when checking the balance of a text.
- Does the work answers all the questions you have about the topic?
- How biased is the work?
- Are there other perspectives on the same issue?
- Has the author presented counter-arguments?
- Check Limitations
Almost every research work has limitations. Therefore, find out whether the author has highlighted the limitations of their work. Ask these questions when critically reading any work.
- What assumptions has the author made in their work?
- Does the used theory have limitations?
- Has the author highlighted the limitations of their study?
- Examine Other Sources
No research work can be isolated. Therefore, the effective critical reading practice requires you to consider other related works. Find out how the work you’re reading fits into the larger picture in the academic context. Here are the questions to ask during this examination:
- How does the work you’re reading relates to past works in the same field?
- Have other researchers and authors presented evidence to give better explanations
- Has any work used a competing theory?
- Is there any research work that disagrees with the current work’s findings?
Try these tips if you want to improve your skills in critical reading and practice more often.
Why is Critical Reading Important?
Critical reading is important because it enhances your thinking and writing skills. Once you read other people’s work critically, you learn better ways to present ideas, information, and facts. What’s more, you learn better vocabulary that you can use in your writing.
Reading critically entails analyzing other people’s work and judging it based on how they present their arguments. You also consider other viewpoints on the same topic or subject matter. Ideally, you analyze how the author argues, presents information, illustrates facts, and arrives at the conclusion. You practice critical thinking in reading. And this enhances your learning and ability to write better papers and essays.
Effective Critical Reading Strategies
People have different approaches to this kind of reading. However, two main strategies have been practiced and proven effective. These are speed reading and SQ3R.
This is strategy entails identifying the document to read. Once you’ve chosen what you want to read, scan through it very fast to identify the areas to focus on. Here, the goal is not to understand the topics or arguments in the text. You want to know what the text is all about first.
Once you’ve identified an interesting or relevant section of the text, slow down and start reading the text critically. That way, you understand the raised arguments better. You can also read some of the passages more than once to understand the work fully.
This is one of the most common critical reading techniques. It is applied to different types of texts. SQ3R is an acronym standing for Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. And you do just that when using this strategy. You survey by skimming the work, you question the work and your reason for reading it, read the work, recall what you’ve read, and then review the work.
SAT Critical Reading Tips
Are you looking for ways to improve your SAT score? If yes, practice these tips during SAT critical reading.
- Identify your most common mistakes and learn to avoid them
- Learn to skim passages
- Practice two-pass strategy to save time
- Practice the elimination process
- Practice reading texts critically
Practice these tips to enhance your critical thinking as well as writing skills.
How Critical Thinking Reading and Writing Differ
One key way critical writing differs from critical reading is the following; critical writing relies on critical thinking. That is, your writing involves reflection on what you’ve read. Ideally, you read a text critically and then use your thinking about it to make your argument. That means you make interpretations and arguments of the arguments, claims, and ideas presented in the text you’ve read. GEt English homework help from our experts, if you’re not sure you can handle your tasks.