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Answered By: Tammy Hopps
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2017     Views: 439

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a great video to help with reading basics!

Before reading—You are preparing your brain to take new information in and process it.

  • Preview the text, and make note of:
    • Headings
    • Subheadings
    • Bolded words—get the definition of those if unfamiliar
    • Italicized words or phrases
  • Ask yourself:
    • What do I already know about this topic(s)/concepts/terms?
    • If/how might this connect to other topics?
  • Review the assignment so you know what information you are looking for (this is your purpose for reading)
    • Set up your assignment so you can add information as you read. (See ‘setting up assignments’ in the writing guide)

During reading—Keep in mind that you are reading to understand and find meaning, not just to get it done.

  • Monitor your comprehension by asking yourself (every paragraph or so):
    • Is this making sense?  If you answer ‘Yes’, then continue reading.

If you answer ‘Not really’, then try the following:

  • Stop and read it again.  Ask yourself why it is not making sense.
    • Are there words you’re not familiar with?
      • If so, then find the definition to those in the glossary, a dictionary, or search engine.
    • Are there distraction in your environment?  Fix those or move.
    • What else might the problem be?  Figure it out and act to solve it.
  • Read each sentence individually to make sure you understand those and then read the full paragraph again.
  • Read the context (the sentences around the words) and see if you can figure out the meaning.
  • Read it aloud slowly and see if you can get the meaning that way.  Then read it aloud a bit faster.
  • Take some notes (summarize each paragraph/section) as you go.
  • Begin to fill in information into the assignment outline you’ve started (set up).

After reading

  • Ask yourself if you understood what you read.  If not, go back to the ‘During reading’ section again.
  • Review your notes.  Tell someone else about what you just read (or just say it to yourself).  (It sounds silly, but it requires clarity about the info to be able to do that.)
  • Make connections between your new information and previous information/concepts/terms.
  • Go back to your assignment and begin the writing process.  Start with an outline with main ideas and details.  Polish it up from there. (See the Writing Guide for complete information).
    • Refer back to the assignment requirements to ensure that you have everything needed.
    • Use resources (Grammarly, NoodleTools, etc.)

Be aware of and monitor your progress.  You will become more successful with this the more you do it.

Tip:  Keep a running list of the most pertinent terms in each course.  You’ll not only remember them better, but you will begin to speak ‘the language’ of the field.  An added bonus: use the terms all quarter long in your discussions and papers to make connections and show what you know more effectively.


For more information on improving your reading skills, view the two documents below as well as the Reading Strategies page of the Student Success Guide.

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