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Student Success Skills: Reading & Textbooks

Reading Strategies

Before You Read

Preview. Getting the big picture enhances retention of details. You learn best from general to specific.

  • Read chapter objectives, headings and subheadings.
  • Look over charts and pictures in the chapter
  • Read the bold and italicized words to become familiar with the chapter vocabulary.
  • Read chapter summaries and questions at the end of the chapter.

Question. Determine what you want from the assignment. Turn each heading into a question. Write down your questions and look for answers as you read. For example if the heading is “Transference and Suggestions,” ask yourself, “How does transference relate to suggestion?”

While You Read

Reflect. Take a moment to ask yourself what you already know about this subject. As you read:

  • Visualize the material. Form mental pictures of the concepts presented.
  • Read aloud especially if it is complicated. You will remember better if you hear the material too.
  • Answer the questions you created. Try to predict the answers and read to find out if your predictions were correct.

Highlight. Be selective. Read the paragraph first. Underline key passages with pencil. Recite what you remember to yourself, then go back and highlight. Avoid highlighting more than 20% of the passage.

  • Circle key terms and write short definitions in the margin or on note cards.
  • Write Q’s in the margins for possible test questions.
  • Draw diagrams, pictures, tables, or maps that translate text into visual terms.
  • Use the backside of your lecture notes to take corresponding reading notes. When studying for the test all the material for the topic will be in the same location in your notes.
  • Write summaries of the main ideas at the bottom of your notes. Putting information in your own words promotes mastery of the material.

After You Read

Recite. Talk to yourself or to someone else about what you read. Studies show that you can profitably devote up to 80% of your study time to active reciting.

Review. Reviewing within 24 hours moves information from short-term to long-term memory. Spend 15 minutes looking over your notes and reciting the main points again.

Review again. Weekly, spend 5-10 minutes rereading your notes and highlighting portions of your text. This keeps neuron pathways accessing the information for better recall.


How to Read a Textbook

5 Active Reading Strategies

Library Search Terms

Suggested Search Terms

We have some books listed below on Reading, but if you would like to see what other materials the Library owns on the topic, try these search terms:

Time Management

Study Skills

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Active Reading

Reading Resources at SJR State Library