Reading Strategies from the University of Waterloo (Canada)

Many students open their books, read until they finish (lose interest, or fall asleep), and are convinced that their concentration, comprehension, and speed are poorer than everyone else's. Students need to recognize that reading may be the most demanding work they do here and that nearly everyone reports difficulty with the volume of reading required.

TRY

getting into the material more often but for shorter periods of time.

WHY?

Because some students may only read for 20 minutes without losing concentration. Also, learning is improved by changing tasks each hour, spreading the work over time, and dipping into it more frequently. (For further explanation of these ideas, see 1) of this series.)


TRY

reading groups of words at a time and without mouthing them.

WHY?

Because your brain can read faster than your mouth and more than one word at a time (A single word has little meaning anyway). Speed and comprehension will increase if you read in meaningful phrases.


TRY

establishing a context by beginning with an overview of the material; this will improve comprehension and retention.

HOW?

Read the introduction, headings, charts, graphs, diagrams, conclusion, and summary, then take a minute to think about the material before beginning to read in depth.


TRY

reading with a purpose: to answer questions and to note the answers (the most important points) where they occur.

HOW?

Establish a list of questions--from questions at the end of the chapter or by turning the headings into questions--and read to answer these. Put ticks in the margins when you think you've found answers. (It's better not to take notes, highlight, or underline at this point; you won't know which are the most important points until you are finished.) Take one more run through, focusing on the ticks in the margin and now deciding which are the most important points; now you can make an informed judgement, so it's appropriate to highlight, underline, or take notes.


TRY

setting your text up so you can study effectively from it.

HOW?

Write your questions in the margins, opposite the answers. Regularly review the material by covering the page and answering the questions.