Writing College Book Reports and Reviews
During the course of their academic careers, most students will be required to write both book reports and book reviews. The writing of book reports begins in the lower grades and continues throughout college as a way for instructors to ensure that their students are reading the assigned materials and that they understand what they read.
Book reports differ from book reviews in several ways. A book report is a factual presentation of the contents of the book, whereas a book review presents the writer's view of the book. College instructors might require book reports far more often than book reviews simply because they have the job of making sure that students comprehend the material, not in determining what their opinion is on the course readings.
Younger students begin early learning to write book reports on their favorite fiction books. After selecting a book, the student is then required to write a book report which is, at first, well-guided by the teacher. A young student is generally given a sheet to fill out upon which he or she will need to simply answer a few questions to form the document. Such questions generally include the name of the book, the author's name, the setting of the book, the main characters, and perhaps one short sentence on what happens first in the story, what happens second, what happens third, how the story ends, and so on. Guiding young students in this manner ensures that, farther down the road, they will understand how to put together a good story review.
As student's progress, those guide sheets become fewer and farther between. Students that have used a guide sheet for years should know how to take the details and sentences that he or she filled in for so long and use that same format to construct a story review. Some students continue to create their own guide sheets long after the teacher stops providing them.
In college, a guide sheet might be otherwise known as an outline. Many students rely heavily on an outline to create their document because an outline allows the student to list the basics that will be required in the document and then flesh out the details as he or she writes the actual paper. A good project outline includes basics such as the title of the book, the author's name, the setting of the book, the time period in which the events take place, the main characters of the book, and the plot.Although little has changed in the writing of book reports, college students are often stymied by the type of books they are assigned to write such reports on. One of the primary differences between lower-grade reports and college or university book reports is that the books are more difficult to read. They are longer, more detailed, and, more often than not, they are non-fiction books such as autobiographies, subject-specific books, and/or historical presentations. What students need to remember is that, when they find themselves at a loss for how to prepare a college-level book report, they can always fall back on those basic skills they learned in elementary school.
Many students believe that their days of writing book reports are over once they finish high school. But, novel critiques are as common in college as in the lower grades. Most college book reports are assigned in English literature courses, but college book reports can be assigned as a part of any college course.
A college book report is very much like any project that students have previously written. Although the subject of a college book report is likely more difficult than a high school book report and college instructors likely expect a higher level of work, the concept of the writing assignment is the same. College book reports are assigned to students to gauge and enhance their writing abilities and to test their critical thinking and analysis skills. So, although college book reports might appear to be redundant assignments to some students, they are actually quite useful to both students and instructors.
A college book report is different from a college book review. A college book report recounts and analyzes the events of a book. Just like the projects that students wrote in grade school, a college project should also include information about the author, the setting of the story, the characters, and the plot of the book. However, professors do expect college students to write book reports that delve deeper significantly into the story.
After reading the assigned book, learners should make sure that they outline their document. The outline for a college book report is similar to those that students followed in high school. A basic outline includes the setting of the book, the time line, the main characters, and the plot. Beginning with a solid outline can help students direct the actual writing of the college book report and help them develop a comprehensive report.
Another difference between book reports required of pre-college students and the college book report is the fact that college book reports are often required for non-fiction books. In non-fiction college book reports a student should discuss the topic of the book and summarize what the author had to say on the topic.
After presenting the body of the college book report, the student should be sure to conclude the report by discussing his or her own thoughts on the book. Unlike a book review, however, a book report is not made up entirely of the writer's opinion of the book; rather, it contains only a concluding paragraph which briefly summarizes the writer's opinion of the book's value.
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