Reading to Learn

As you have already discovered, reading is a large part of your academic life. Therefore, learning to read well is important to college success. Everyone has had classes in which the book was difficult or boring to read. It's easy to skip the reading assignment in these cases. However, if you haven't read the assigned text, you probably won't be able to take full advantage of the class lectures or the valuable information in the texts that apply to your exams. The following suggestions may help you get more out of your reading and offer ideas to improve your reading skills.

Before you start:
  •  Preview the chapter you are about to read. Look at the title, introduction, major headings and subheadings, summary illustrations, charts, glossary, and review questions. Become familiar with the overall structure of the chapter you are about to read.
  •  Ask yourself questions based on your quick review. For example, if the title for a chapter in a psychology book is "Types of Motivation, "ask yourself, "What are the different types of motivation?" Questions will provide a focus and purpose of your reading.
  •  Carefully review illustrations. Students will often make the mistake of giving illustration or charts just a perfunctory glance. Visual illustrations may stay in your memory more clearly than the written word.
  •  Set reading goals. Divide your reading assignments into manageable units and read only a given amount in any one sitting. Plan to read and review daily. Do not let the reading pile up.

Ready, set, read:
  •  Try to "go with the flow" of the text. Get into the rhythm of the text. Let yourself become absorbed in what is being said. Try to pick out the main ideas.
  •  Actively use your book. Forget about keeping your book clean and neat. Use your margins to write questions and answers to the questions. Try summarizing key pints in your own words. The process of writing down information or ideas will help you retain in the information and your notes will work as a study guide when you are reviewing for an exam.