Pre-Reading Assignment

Posted by Dr. Tina L. Hanlon
Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College

English 101 Home Page

Use these guidelines to help you become familiar with your textbooks. Pre-reading each assignment for your courses according to the instructions in Part II will help you learn and retain the material more thoroughly. (Exception: When you are reading a work of literature, you probably should not read all the introduction first or skim to the end of the work; doing this might "give away" the ending of the story when you are reading it for the first time.)

Make efficient use of the textbooks you own by underlining key words and passages and making notes in the margins as you read. Don't ignore footnotes that may contain helpful material. If you are studying from books you do not own and cannot mark in, take notes on separate paper or computer while you read.

If you are not in Dr. Hanlon's composition class, use and adapt these guidelines in any way that is helpful to you. If you are in my class, do the following.

Turn in your answers to the following questions using your rhetoric text for English 101 (Rules for Writers by Hacker and Sommers). If you write your answers on your own paper, just use the same numbering as you see below for each question. If you want to print this page and write your answers on it, use the back if you need extra space. (Or copy the questions into your word processor so that you can insert extra space between questions.)

Name of Textbook ____________________________________________

Author(s) of Book _____________________________________________

I. Pre-read the book.

A. Examine carefully the Table of Contents and the index. How is the book divided? (Chapters? sections? units?)

B. Prefatory Material.
Read any prefatory material (Preface, Foreword, Introduction, etc.). What significant things did you learn about the book by reading this material?

C. What plan or methods of organization have the authors used to organize the whole book?

D. Does the book have a glossary? an index? an appendix? a companion Web site? other checklists/aids?

E. What is the publication date? Why is this date significant?

F. For each question below, list the page or section you would consult to answer this question. For example, if the question is how to paraphrase material from a book in an MLA research paper, you would need to turn to 54b and 55a in the 9th edition. Be more precise about page number(s) if the question asks about a very specific item. You don't have to answer the questions, just say which sections would help you answer them, but you can answer some of them for extra credit if you choose. 

1. You can't decide whether to use that or which in a sentence.

2. You need pointers for writing the introduction to your essay.

3. You need to cite an article in the New York Times using the MLA system of documentation.

4. You can't decide whether to use rise or raise as the verb in a sentence.

5. You need to know how to format and  type a business letter.

6. You're confused about the difference between affect and effect.

7. You need to know if the period goes before or after the quotation marks at the end of a direct quotation.

8. You have trouble narrowing the topic for your essay.

9. Your professor has marked CS on one of your sentences and you need to know how to fix a comma splice in your essay.

II. Pre-read 2nd chapter in your textbook.

Do this by reading the boldface headings first. Then go back and read the first two paragraphs of the chapter completely. After the first two paragraphs of the chapter, read only the first sentence in every paragraph. Then read the last two paragraphs all the way through. Write a one-paragraph summary of what you think you are going to find out about in this chapter. Base this paragraph only on information which you have obtained from pre-reading.