Reading Tips

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Unlocking Textbooks

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[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]Assess Your Reading Strategies[/wc_testimonial]

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[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]SQ3R: Tried and True[/wc_testimonial]

  1. Survey—Quickly overview the chapter reading headings and subheadings
  2. Questions—Create questions that can be answered by headings of the text, once red
  3. Read—Read the text with the goal of answering your questions
  4. Recite—Verbalize the main points of the text without looking at your notes or textbook
  5. Review—Look


[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]Reading Rate: 3 Speeds for Different Purposes[/wc_testimonial]

  1. Skim-Away! (800-1,000 WPM)— used for gaining an overview and accessing background knowledge about a text or topic
  2. Scan (1,500 WPM)— 100% accuracy—used when you are looking for specific information from a specific text
  3. Precise Reading (250-500 WPM)— monitors comprehension for analyzing and retaining information.. Always adjust speed based on comprehension!


[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]Vocabulary: Know Words More Deeply – Four Square Method[/wc_testimonial]



Instead of just memorizing definitions, write more about each key/focus word to ensure understanding. Draw a square consisting of 4 divided quadrants, each designated for a specific kind of information. For example, quadrants could be word parts, definitions, diagrams, examples, characteristics, illustrations, ect.



[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]Top 10: How To Improve Your Reading Skills[/wc_testimonial]

  1. Preview the text to get an overall idea of what it’s about. Pay attention to chapter titles, section headings, pictures, side notes, bolded terms, and any questions posed at the end or beginning of the chapter.
  2. Focus your reading by deciding on a purpose (other than it being a required reading for a course). Use the 5 “W’s” in setting your purpose: Who, what, when, where, and why.
  3. Take notes! There are a variety of ways to take notes. You can create an outline, create a chart or diagrams, sketch pictures, or jot down the most important ideas in a notebook.
  4. Mark the text in your book. Use a highlighter to capture key ideas. Write class notes/ideas/questions in the margins. If you are uncomfortable writing in your book, try using sticky notes!
  5. Stop after each section of reading to summarize the main ideas in order to ensure that you understand the text and are following the material.
  6. Paraphrase bits of the text, especially those that are difficult to understand, into your own words.
  7. Look up the definition of a word only if knowing the word is essential to understanding the text. If the sentence makes sense without the word, then skip the word and do not let it interfere with your reading. You can try using flashcards to remember new words.
  8. Ask questions! Write questions in the margins or on sticky notes then look for the answers to the questions as you read. If you cannot find the answers in the text, ask a friend or instructor.
  9. Read critically. Look for the main points the author is making. Ask if the main ideas of the text are supported with evidence and if the evidence is logical and reliable. Look for holes in the ideas/arguments presented, and do not be afraid to challenge ideas you do not agree with.
  10. Re-read the text. You do not have to re-read the entire text, but you will benefit from re-reading sections that are complicated or that you had many questions about.

Read more tips here.