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.
The first step towards reading texts more critically is to be aware of when and how a text may try to persuade you. There are three main strategies to try and persuade the reader:
In the following examples, identify the word or phrase that was used to persuade you and how it does this.