Read between the lines: make the most of required readings

In addition to attending classes, doing homework, and writing exams, most courses require additional reading. Readings are important because they increase your knowledge and help you better understand the material covered by the professor.

Assigned texts can be complicated and may seem insurmountable. Here are some effective strategies to help you get through your readings.

Find a comfortable place with good lighting.

  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Position the book correctly.
  • Find a specific place you can always go to read.

(If you always go to the same place for the same activity, your brain will begin to associate the place with the activity, and you will find it easier to concentrate.)

Read difficult information a little at a time.

  • Skim the text (titles, first sentence of every paragraph, chapter summaries).
  • Find the clues in the text (ie. italics, bold, subheadings)
  • Read the complete text.
  • After you have read the text once, go back over what you have read and highlight.
  • Take a close look at graphs, illustrations and tables.
  • Re-read the text again later.

Why do you have to read this text?

  • Figure out what the purpose of the reading is. Whether it is to help you prepare for class or understand an important concept, the answer will provide motivation.

Pay attention to the longest sections.

  • If a long section of text is devoted to a concept, this is usually a sign that it is an important concept. If you do not have much time, spend less time on shorter sections.


‘’Taking Notes from Research Reading.’’ University of Toronto. <http://www.asc.utoronto.ca/Helpful-Links.htm.>

Stop by the mentoring center. We can give you other tips and information to help you read more efficiently.

You can also sign up for one of our free workshops.

Simard Hall, Room 125B

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