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Mastering Academic Reading is meant to challenge advanced academically oriented students of English. The units and the readings within them are long. The comprehension and expansion exercises after them are demanding. The hoped-for outcome is that students trained using this textbook will be able to better hold their own in university classes where the reading volume across disciplines and vocabulary demands are high.
Almost every reading is taken, in minimally adapted form, from a book or academic / professional journal. Two introductory passages have been composed expressly for this book in order to provide narrowly focused background material. Beyond these pieces, readers are in the hands of "real-world" authors and their difficult, lexically diffuse, and allusion-filled creations. Journal articles and book excerpts predominate, but Mastering Academic Reading also offers a book review and a government pamphlet as well.
Since one aspect of reading practice builds on others, the units are laid out in tiers, not in sections. Each unit has been organized into three tiers. In general, there is one reading per tier, although the first tier in Unit 3 contains two passages (both necessary to provide conceptual background for the other two tiers). Each reading is 3,500-5,000 words. The book focuses on the three primary goals of academic reading: reading to learn; reading to integrate, write, and critique texts; and reading for basic comprehension.