Strategic Reading

Strategies for Efficient and Strategic Reading

View this tutorial to learn more about strategies for reading efficiency. 

 Be strategic. Experiment with these strategies that ask you to engage with the material three times--before you start, as you read, and after you finish. This recursive process will boost your recall.

Before you start to read

  • Take 5 to 10 minutes to preview the reading.
  • Look at titles and words in bold. If there are no titles and bolded words, skip around and read a few phrases and sentences throughout the reading.
  • Use this time to get your bearings on the reading.
  • Identify one or two questions or topics that you hope to understand better by the time you finish reading (this may aid in focus).

As you read

  • Focus on the reading for a limited amount of time--15-30 minutes is a general goal, but everyone's ability to focus may vary.
  • Read actively and push forward.
  • Don't get too bogged down in the details--your goal right now is to get the overall main idea.
  • Watch for information that may answer questions that arose during your preview.
  • Read to understand a concept better, not just to "complete the reading."

After you read

  • After your time is up or you can tell you are no longer focusing well, stop.
  • Now go back over what you have read to pull out a few main ideas.
  • Jot down gist words in the margins, to help you remember a main point or to write a question to bring up in class.
  • Or jot down a list of key points in your notes. Just avoid writing too much; the notes you take on the reading should help you increase your understanding. You should not try to rewrite the book!
  • Notes aren't always necessary. Pause to reflect and review.
  • If needed, now is a good time to reread any key section you assess as worth closer review.

Refer to tips in the section on Effective Study Skills to go more in-depth on key points. If there is a section that was particularly challenging, talk to a classmate or your professor. Or seek tutoring by signing up in 208 D.D. Dougherty, either for a tutor in your subject or for an interdisciplinary tutor. Or sometimes you can find related books in the library or online that help you better understand a challenging section of your reading. Or you might want to set up a consultation with a college reading specialist.

For further practice, consider enrolling in RE 1010 Power Reading to practice various strategies to develop effective and efficient reading strategies.

A few websites that may also help:

  • Fun way to build vocabulary--vocabulary knowledge affects reading speed!
  • Great interactive website and very helpful definitions with sample sentences