Reading with  your Purpose in Mind

Reading with your Purpose in Mind

Author: Sydney Bauer
This lesson explains how to read with purpose in mind.
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Introduction to Psychology

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Reading with your purpose in mind


Reading with your purpose in mind

The first step to reading with your purpose in mind is figuring out what that purpose is. It could be a purpose assigned to you, or a purpose you’ve given to yourself.


If you’re having a hard time determining what your purpose for reading is, here is a list of the five most common purposes for reading:

  • You’re trying to understand the author’s underlying message. You’re purpose for reading is to understand the main idea. You won’t focus on the details of the reading. Instead you’ll focus on how the details fit together to create the main ideas of the reading.
  • You’re trying to locate specific details throughout a book or assigned reading. You’ll want to underline, highlight, or circle them as you find them.
  • You’re trying to answer a question about the author, book, characters, ideas, or any other part of the reading. Write the question down on a note card so that you have something that you can look back at. Make sure you take some time to try and answer the question (or make an educated guess as to what the answer is) at different points in the text.
  • You’re trying to evaluate the usefulness of the reading. You’ll need to decide what makes a book “useful”: does it help you with your research? Does it help you understand another book? Does it provide you with enough information? Does it provide you with too much information? How accurate is the information?
  • You want to be entertained, so your purpose for reading is entertainment.


Depending on what your purpose for reading is, you might want to jot it down on a note card or post-it note that you can refer back to as you read.


As you read, keep referring back to your purpose. When you are getting near the end of your book or assigned reading, concentrate on fulfilling that purpose.