Q. What can I do before reading to help me better understand the content?

Pre-reading activities


Some pre-reading activities that you can do to help you better absorb the content include the following:

  • Utilize some general, well-known reading strategies like SQ3R
  • Assess your own knowledge of the topic before reading
    • What do you already know about this topic?
    • What do you not know about this topic?
    • What might you expect to learn?
    • Make a prediction of what you think the chapter will be about.
  • Figure out what you should be looking for while you read (this is called setting the purpose for reading)
    • Why did your instructor ask you to read this?
    • Why is it important?
    • How can it help you in the class?  In your future career?
    • Write down 3 things you would like to have answered from the chapter.
  • Make a quick, "in-your-head" preview of your reading material itself...
    • Title
      • What does the title indicate the content might be about?
      • What topics might be covered or not covered based on the title?
    • Author
      • Do you know anything about the author?
      • Is there a bio of the author that tells you additional information about his or her credentials? potential biases?
      • Is the author an expert in the field?
    • Publisher
      • Do you know anything about this publisher?
      • Is this a reliable publisher?
      • Does this publisher tend to publish certain types of materials, present a certain bias or perspective?
    • Date of publication
      • Is this information up-to-date or older?
    • Table of contents
      • Read through titles of chapters...
        • What aspects of the topic indicated in the title will be covered?
        • What areas will be covered more in-depth than others?
        • What is not being covered?
    • Introductions
      • Is there an introduction?
      • What does it say about what the content might be?
    • Summaries/Abstracts
      • Is there a summary or abstract of the text? Normally these are at the beginning.
      • Read any summary or abstract!
    • Conclusion
      • Is there a conclusion that summarizes what the article or chapter or book was about?
      • Read the conclusion before you read the text so you know where you are headed/what you are going to discover or learn.
    • Text and graphical helpers
      • Are there sections in each chapter?  Read the section titles before reading the whole text to get an idea of the structure/organization of the text.
      • Are the sub-sections? Read those, too.
      • Look for words in bold print ahead of time, as they tend to be vocabulary or important terms you should know.
      • Are there graphs or pictures? Look at them and read the captions before reading.
    • Finally... find a quiet, distraction-free spot to read and absorb the material.  This will help you better identify key concepts & terms as you read.  Also, experienced students say that they find it's better to read a chapter or section twice quickly then to read something slowly (with a lot of rereading).  Try this technique too!

For more information on reading strategies, take a look below:


  • Last Updated Mar 08, 2018
  • Views 14027
  • Answered By Kate Anderson, Business Librarian

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