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Academic reading: Introduction


When talking about critical reading, the word ‘critical’ means that you do not simply take ideas in a text for granted, but that you evaluate the evidence and arguments. Your critical reading process could start with the assumption that texts are not neutral but try to influence the reader in some way and are themselves influenced by the writer’s beliefs, attitudes, and culture. This process often involves identifying the author’s beliefs and opinions as they are expressed in the text and understanding how these influence the message. When you decide which parts of the text are most important, which are more or less persuasive for your purposes, or which parts are most controversial, you are engaging critically with the text. A further step would be to relate the text to your own existing knowledge and beliefs.

In short, critical reading involves taking an extra (mental) step after comprehension, so that you are able to evaluate the text, draw conclusions and make inferences. Critical reading is effectively using analysis and combining your own knowledge and beliefs with the ideas in the text in order to learn from the passage.

By the end of this module, you will be able to...

  • read between the lines, that is, understand the hidden messages of written texts;
  • apply critical reading skills to English texts;
  • evaluate the quality of text contents;
  • see how texts persuade us to behave or think in particular ways;
  • see how texts may be read in different ways by different people.


Reading critically

Watch the video below for an introduction on how to read critically.