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There are different strategies you can apply to your reading, depending on your goal. You might need to choose one or a few of these strategies for each text that you read.

Activity: Test your previewing skills

Table of contents - previewing activity


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Activity: Test your skimming skills

In the excerpt from a book chapter below, the first paragraph is presented in full. In the following paragraphs (2-6), only the topic sentences appear. You should still be able to get the gist of the full passage.

  • Read the first paragraph and the topic sentence of each subsequent paragraph.
  • You should find you can easily answer the three questions which follow.
  • Use the blue arrows to move through the quiz.

Chapter Twelve: Trade routes and rituals

1. Trade between distant people is often seen as a mark of a more advanced economic life. If this insight is valid, many groups of aboriginals must have been far from backward because their raw materials and manufactures were traded to people hundreds of miles away. It is probable that every tribe in Australia traded with its neighbours, and a few commodities were involved in such a sequence of transactions that they crossed from the tropical coast almost to the Southern Ocean.

2. Pearl shell travelled further perhaps than any other Item. (13 lines deleted)

3. In eastern Australia the axe-stone also moved over a wide area. (6 lines deleted)

4. A quarry which provided stone fit for stronger, sharper axes was likely to supply trade routes stretching in every direction. (6 lines deleted)

5. As the written records were thin in tracing the trade in stone axes from the Tamworth district; other ways of reconstructing the extent of the trade were needed. Petrological analysis was one promising technique.

6. This kind of archaeological jigsaw - the exact matching of axe and quarry - can be solved only when every likely source of stone has been discovered and described. (3 lines deleted) … axes had gone overland through a chain of tribal territories to Cobar, Bourke, Wilcannia, and other points on the plains as remote as 500 miles from the home quarries. (2 lines deleted)

(Blainey, G. (1975). Triumph of the nomads: A History of Ancient Australia. South Melbourne, Vic.: Macmillan. p. 203-204.)


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Activity: Test your scanning skills

You need to find the definition of ‘postmodernity’ for an assignment.

Your first step might be to look in the index for the word, and see if it can direct you to some definitions. However, if the whole book is about postmodernism, then you might have too many references to check. Another obvious place to look is in the Introduction.

Below is a section from the Introduction to Intimations of postmodernity.

Scan through to see if you can locate where in the text the author defines what he means by the term.

Introduction to Intimations of postmodernity text

Detailed reading

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You will often need to take notes while reading. This video on Efficient note taking strategies will help you take better notes.