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Tips on Reading for College

Get tips on reading articles or books for college.

Reading for College Takes Multiple Steps

""As a college student, you know that writing your paper actually takes several steps. You have to write and re-write until you've fulfilled your assignment.

Like writing, reading for college takes more than one step. You'll be reading to understand what the author is saying, but you also have to allow yourself time to reflect about it.

Most likely you will have to re-read at least parts of an article or book as you try to determine how this information from the author fits in with what you know about the topic, if it changes what you think about it, and how it compares to what other sources say about the topic.

You can use these techniques to make reading your sources easier and even improve your writing!

1. Break It Down

Reading an entire article or book can sometimes be overwhelming. One technique that you can use is to break it down into smaller chunks. Try summarizing each paragraph for articles or if you are reading a single chapter in a book; try summarizing each chapter if you're reading an entire book.

  1. If you had to summarize what that paragraph/chapter meant in one sentence, what would it be?
  2. Keep notes of each of those summaries and when you're done with the article/chapter/book, read just the summaries. That should give you a pretty good understanding of the article.

2. Reflect for Meaning

After you've read and summarized an article or book, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is the author of the source telling you about the topic?
  2. What was the most important or main point?
  3. What new information did you learn from it that you did not know before?
  4. How does that change what you think about the topic?
  5. How does what one source say about the topic compare to what other sources say about the topic?

This is the kind of information that your instructor will want to see when you write your paper.

If you can read your sources so that you can summarize and then reflect on what you've read, you'll find that not only will your writing  improve, it will be easier! 

A Few More Tips

Here are a few more tips that may help.

Highlight What's Important
Try highlighting important points as you read. If you create a personal account in our databases, you can even do this online with articles and eBooks!

Schedule Your Reading
If you're reading a long article or book, try scheduling you're reading. For instance, instead of trying to read it all in one sitting, just plan to read 5 pages in the morning, 5 at lunch and 5 in the evening. 

Read in the Right Environment
Sometimes the environment can make a big difference. Someplace calm with few distractions can really help. If you can't get a way at home, try booking one of our study rooms.