Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Academics

Reading Smarter, Not Harder: How AI Can Transform Your Study Approach

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ball State chapter.

Disclaimer: This article is not affiliated with or sponsored by Jenn.AI. This article is only about my personal experiences with using the AI tool.

The grind is on! You’re halfway through the semester and I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been struggling. Between classes, work, and simply trying to live life, it might feel difficult to fit in assignments like reading, comprehending, and analyzing long journal articles. Luckily, we now have AI. Surely you’ve heard of it before. Whether you’ve used it to prompt a brainstorming session or serve as inspiration for a paper, AI can be very useful so long as you know how to use it right. The question is how can you get the most out of your class readings with the assistance of AI?

STOP! Before we proceed any further, please note that this article isn’t encouraging you to skip over your readings. AI can be helpful in summarizing, tying main points together, and providing tangible examples of your reading material but it does not make up for the depth of a full article. This article suggests that you use the tool before and after reading an article or reading to prepare your mind for the material and review what you’ve learned. Got it? Get it? Good, let’s get a move on…

So where do you start? First, grab that reading, a.k.a. download the article and upload it to Jenn.AI! Please note, Jenn.AI is free to try, there is an annual subscription required once you run out of free prompts. This gives you a chance to try the site out before making a monetary commitment. Alternatively, there’s also ChatGPT which is completely free, although functions a bit differently. Personally, I use AI before and after my readings. Before, I find it useful for setting up the article. AI provides me with a list of what to look out for in a long, complex article. AI sifts through all that academic jargon and provides me with the main ideas and concepts covered throughout. So, when I go to read, instead of getting caught up in the complexities of the concepts and the language, I focus on the main points of the reading.

In order to prepare myself for the reading, I ask Jenn.AI a series of three questions:

1.     Explain the article to me as if I was an elementary student

2.     Explain this article to me as a graduate student

3.     Highlight the main ideas and concepts of this article

The first question is designed to provide you with a simple, high-level overview of what the article covers. Essentially, I’m prompting the system to create “a version of the material for dummies”. For me, simplifying things to the basics helps me to develop a baseline understanding of the subject matter. Note that sometimes you may need to bump the explanation up to an intermediate level as this prompt can overgeneralize a subject.

Once I understand the foundations of the concept, I ask for a more complex example by prompting Jenn.AI to “explain this article to me as a graduate student”. This explanation loops in more detail and zeros in more on the learning material. Through this explanation, I develop a deeper understanding for the subject, the ties between concepts, and the implications of ideas explored.

Finally, I want to gain an idea of what the article is conveying. I do this by prompting the system to “highlight the main ideas and concepts of this article ”. This prompt will provide a high-level list of the main ideas in the reading, but typically does not go into detail beyond those generalized points. This is where reading the article comes in.

Once I’ve asked AI these three questions, I start reading the article. As mentioned before, the true depth of an article can only be discovered by “reading” it. Why the quotations?  Well, I have a special way of doing it. Here’s my process:

1.     Read the title

2.     Read the introduction

3.     Read all the subheadings

4.     Read the conclusion

5.     Pause and digest the article


6.     Go back and read the material relevant for the assignment

Let’s pause here. How do you determine what’s necessary to read? During both undergrad and grad school, I’ve found that professors clearly lay out learning objectives for readings or post the objectives for the class following the reading. So, when reading an article for an assignment, go back and read the parts that align with the assignment criteria. If you’re reading to prepare for the next class, you want to look at the agenda and class objectives to understand what knowledge you’ll need to be prepared with. Don’t forget to annotate! Annotating isn’t a must, but it does help. AI or not, reading a long article can be downright dreadful. Interacting and critically engaging with the reading helps me focus and reframe points in a way that works with my mind.

Finally, step 7: return to Jenn.AI and re-read the initial summaries from Jenn.AI. After that, I typically like to ask follow-up questions based on some of the material I learned in the reading. What you ask AI after you read will largely be based on the material itself, so your follow-up questions will differ every time. The prompts I typically input include are: 

·      explain the theories in the article

·      provide examples of the material

·      what implications does X have on X

·      and more…

You can only develop these follow-up questions by reading the material, and that’s why it’s still important to engage with the reading itself. What you learn from the reading coupled with the AI assistance will provide you with the working knowledge to understand it and apply that knowledge. I’ve found that implementing AI tools into my studies allows me to read articles more efficiently and effectively. Reading long publications only takes me an hour to an hour and a half now. Before, I would spend hours if not several days trying to read the article and then decipher the content. Now, I can accomplish a working knowledge of it, while only spending a fraction of the time doing so.

With that said, I hope you proceed, but with caution. Keep in mind that AI is an emerging technology. Jenn.AI itself is in the Beta stage and inevitably has kinks. So, be on the lookout for inaccuracies and skipped-over information that AI is prone to generate. As a general warning too, use the summaries as a jumping board, not to cheat. Allow it to assist you in doing your work, rather than letting it do your work for you and potentially facing harsh consequences as a result. Use it wisely!To make up for that little downer, let’s end with a high note. Working with AI doesn’t make you lazy as some institutions and professionals tell you. Technology will constantly be evolving. It’s in our best interest to learn how to work with it and use it to assist in creating our strongest work.

Hey there, I'm Cameron Beteet, a graduate student at Ball State University, immersed in the world of Emerging Media Development and Design. My academic journey revolves around delving into the intricacies of emerging technologies such as XR, AR, VR, and AI, with a keen focus on mastering the art of User Experience and Interface Design. Beyond the lecture halls and study sessions, I'm a Video and Administration Graduate Assistant at Ball State's Digital Corps. This part-time role allows me to apply my knowledge in a practical setting, honing my skills in video production and administration. I find joy in being part of a dynamic team that thrives on creativity and innovation. Looking ahead, my aspirations extend beyond the confines of the campus. Post-graduation, I envision leveraging my technical prowess in video and content creation to contribute to the digital marketing landscape. My goal is to play a pivotal role in helping businesses thrive by strategically promoting and showcasing their offerings via trans-media campaigns. Follow along with my adventures via Ball State's Her Campus chapter as I share insights, experiences, and discoveries from my college life.
Cami Beteet

Ball State '24

Hi, I'm Cami. A freshman and TCOM major at Ball State University.