Learning to read effectively is an important study skill. It aids in the retention of information and serves as a necessary addition to the information you gain in class. You can improve your reading skills by making the following changes to your current style.
Creating the Right Environment
Before you jump into reading, it is important to prepare yourself. Make sure that you aren't hungry or over-tired, that you have a good light, and that you keep distractions to a minimum. Controlling your environment in this way will help you concentrate and get more out of what you are reading.
Before You Read, Preview
Skim over chapter titles, introductions, headings, boldfaced or italicized words before you begin reading. Also pay attention to chapter summaries and review questions to get an idea about what will be covered. Consider why you were asked to read this particular assignment.
As You Read
Pay attention to main ideas and supporting details as you read. Examine charts, pictures, and graphs included with the text. Evaluate the material. Do you agree with what is being said? Does it make sense to you?
Taking Notes and Marking Your Text
Don't overdo it with your highlighter. Only highlight or underline main ideas, names of important people or dates, key terms, or statements that summarize the main elements of the passage. Use cross-referencing while you read. If you see a point on a page that relates to something you read previously, make notes in the margin of each page referring to the other page that has related information.
After You Read
Verbally summarize what you have read to help improve your retention. Write down any areas that were confusing or you had questions about and ask your instructor as soon as possible. Review what you've read frequently. After class, make notes on how the assigned reading related to the lecture.
Textbook Reading for Specific Subjects
Mathematics - Add a "practice" stage for solving problems during the review stage of your reading. Make sure all the problems are solved before you move on to the next chapter. If you have trouble solving the problems, form a study group with others in your class or stop by the Academic Resource Center to set up an appointment with a tutor. If you move on without understanding the prior information, you are likely to understand even less in the following chapters.
Sciences - Add a "draw" stage to give you time to draw out diagrams, charts, etc. Drawing out the information will make it easier to learn and remember.
Literature - During your review stage, add "interpret" and "evaluate". Literature involves not just reading but interpreting and evaluating what you read. Write brief statements of your interpretation or evaluation beside the story, poem, etc..
Foreign Languages - Like mathematics, you need to add a "practice" stage to your review stage. It is essential that you know the basics before you begin to add more information. Flashcards and conjugation tables are good tools to use during this "practice" stage.
For Extra Help
If you would like additional tips on improving your study skills, feel free to stop by or call the Academic Resource Center at 243-4473 to make an appointment. This number can also be used to set up appointments with tutors for a specific subject area.
& Maintained by the ARC
Last Update: May 14, 2001
Wheeling Jesuit University