Critical thinking involves being rational and aware of your own feelings on the subject – being able to reorganise your thoughts, prior knowledge and understanding to accommodate new ideas or viewpoints.
Critical reading and critical thinking are therefore the very foundations of true learning and personal development.
In academic circles, whilst you are a student, you will be expected to understand different viewpoints and make your own judgements based on what you have read.
Critical reading goes further than just being satisfied with what a text says, it also involves reflecting on what the text describes, and analysing what the text actually means, in the context of your studies.
You will, in formal learning situations, be required to read and critically think about a lot of information from different sources.
It is important therefore, that you not only learn to read critically but also efficiently.Once you have identified a relevant piece of text, like a chapter in a book, you should scan the first few sentences of each paragraph to gain an overall impression of subject areas it covers.Scan-reading essentially means that you know what you are looking for, you identify the chapters or sections most relevant to you and ignore the rest.When you find a relevant or interesting section you will need to slow your reading speed dramatically, allowing you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the arguments raised.Even when you slow your reading down it may well be necessary to read passages several times to gain a full understanding. SQ3R can be applied to a whole range of reading purposes as it is flexible and takes into account the need to change reading speeds.Recalling from time to time allows you to focus upon the main points – which in turn aids concentration.Recalling gives you the chance to think about and assimilate what you have just read, keeping you active.Critical reading means being able to reflect on what a text says, what it describes and what it means by scrutinising the style and structure of the writing, the language used as well as the content.Thinking critically, in the academic sense, involves being open-minded - using judgement and discipline to process what you are learning about without letting your personal bias or opinion detract from the arguments.Having questions changes reading from a passive to an active pursuit.Examples of possible questions include: Now you will be ready for the main activity of reading.