There is plenty of text in the world that we only read once: texts from friends, billboards, magazine or stories, novels we’re reading for fun. But when we are reading to further our learning and to work with the material in the texts, it pays to reread.
Don’t let yourself think that rereading is a deficiency or weakness. Ask your professors. We reread material for our classes, even though we may have taught it for years. Why? Two of the big reasons are (1) to refresh our memory and (2) to review the material in light of what we know now that we didn’t know when we read the text the last time. I regularly notice ideas in a text on a second or third reading that I didn’t notice the first time through.
This doesn’t mean that you will need to reread everything from beginning to end, and if you have taken good notes, you won’t have to. But you should expect that you will need to reread difficult or important sections of a text to confirm your understanding and glean new insight. And you’ll definitely need to reread at least the parts of the texts you are going to write about. For example, in writing this chapter, I have reread Mitchell’s article in whole or in part at least five times. Probably more, but I wasn’t keeping track.
Good readers reread. Professional readers reread. Experts reread. You should reread, too.
In the previous section, I asked you to use some strategies to work carefully through difficult sections. This meant that you almost certainly reread at least some material. But even if you didn’t, try rereading a section now, and answer the following questions:
- What do you understand better as a result of your rereading?
- What did you notice during the rereading that you missed before?
- What, if anything, did you learn from rereading the text?
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