Skip to Main Content
Logo for the Skills Centre

180 seconds to Academic Success

So, you’ve been set an assignment and you’ve found some books and articles to read and you’re wondering ‘how am I going to read all this as well as actually writing my assignment?” Well, today’s 180 seconds will give you 4 tips to make the reading process quicker, easier and more useful. 

1.Ask: “Why am I reading this?” / How does this help answer my assignment question? 

Before you start to read something– think about why you are reading it. What are you looking for by reading this? Jot down a couple of questions you hope the article/chapter may answer. Then - look for the answers to your questions.  

Consider what your assignment question is asking you. Then, as you read ask yourself “how does any of this help to answer my assignment question?” Highlight or make notes of the bits which help to answer your assignment.   

2.You don’t have to read it all!  

Skimming: If you are not sure whether a piece will answer the questions you have – skim through the contents or the sub-headings to find and focus on parts of the piece which may be most useful. You don't have to read it all! 

Top & Tail: A handy technique for getting a flavour of what is in an article or chapter you are reading is called ‘top and tailing’. This involves reading the beginning (the top) and the end (the tail) only. You can top and tail an article by reading the introduction and the conclusion; you can top and tail a chapter of a book by doing the same. You can top and tail a smaller amount of text – like a paragraph by reading the first couple of sentences and the last couple of sentences only. You can then go back to any sections which seem particularly useful and read in more detail. 

3. Read a review:

To find out more about what is in a particular book you can read a review of the book written by someone else who has read all of it. Reviews provide summaries of the content of a book and some positives and negatives about what the books says. When searching in the Library Gateway you can select ‘Reviews’ from the ‘Refine my results’ column on the left-hand side.

4. Use Microsoft Immersive Reader Tools 

These tools are built into Microsoft software and can make reading easier in several ways. To enter immersive reader in Word, select ‘View’ and then the ‘Immersive Reader’ button from the top menu. You can then use the options to change the background colour of the page or change the layout of the text and margins to spread it out and make it easier to read You can even have it read the text out loud to you. Click to watch a walk through video. 

On websites you need to use Microsoft Edge as your browser (not Chrome). Look for the immersive reader icon on the top right on any web-page: 

If the icon is not showing:

If the website URL does not contain https:// at the beginning you will need  to add this as well – like this: read://https// 

If you are viewing a pdf in Microsoft Edge, you can select the ‘Read Aloud’ button from the top menu to have the text read out loud to you.  

If you choose the ‘Voice Options’ tab you can select a different voice and even a different language! 


If you would like more help check out: Entering Immersive Reader.

Also, you can book onto a workshop run by the Assistive Technology Team here at SHU.

Got more than 3 minutes?

Additional Resources