How to Write a Graduate Book Report

Periodically in the course of graduate study, you will be expected to write a book report. In elementary school, it was easy enough to summarize a book for your report, but what are you expected to do at the graduate level? With preparation and careful consideration, writing a graduate-level book report is a reasonably easy task; here's how.

Determine what your professor wants. What a "graduate book report" is really depends on individual professors. Listen to what your professor says about the assignment and read the syllabus. If this still leaves you with questions, talk to your professor. Some professors will want you to merely summarize the book, but many will expect you to provide a critical assessment of the book. Additionally, it is important to note what style your professor wants the report written in.

Read the book. It is helpful to at least skim through the book before you ever try to write about it. This will help you see the big picture before you try to write your report.

Start the book again, paying more attention to detail. As you go, take notes to use to write your report.

Write your report. Make sure that the structure is logical and easy to follow. Structure will depend largely on content and what your professor expects of the assignment.

Work in other sources that are useful. In book reports, professors seldom expect the sort of external resources that they would expect for a research paper, but working a few in is still worthwhile.

Format your paper to fit the specified style. The style of papers varies between fields, so it is important to be aware of which style is most prevalent in your field. APA, MLA, CSE, Chicago and Turabian formats are used in various fields. Most have you include the same information, just in a different format.

Once you are done, give your report at least one thorough proofread. This may seem like a minor thing, but you'd be amazed how a well-proofed paper can improve your grade. Professors appreciate an error-free effort!


Knowing what your professor wants is the biggest trick. Pay attention to the feedback the professor provides you on other assignments. This should be used to shape your future assignments.

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