Effective Reading StrategiesWriter's Web
Amy Addison
(printable version here)

Reading and writing are very closely related. If you don't understand the material you are reading, chances are you won't write about it very well. The following are a few tips on how to get the most out of your reading:

  • Don't wait until the last minute; give yourself plenty of time to read your material.
  • Establish an atmosphere conducive to maximum concentration. This atmosphere will vary depending on personal preferences.
  • Look over materials before delving into them, noting headings, bold-faced words, charts, and summaries. Skim introductions and conclusions. By previewing materials, you can develop a sense of the overall point(s) it is presenting. This will help put the details into a larger context in which they will make sense.
  • Use the questions at the beginnings or ends of chapters as study guides to help focus your reading.
  • Read everything, including those introductions and conclusions you skimmed.
  • Look up words you don't know.
  • Try one or more of the following methods of note taking (using a combination of approaches will help you begin reviewing):
    • Glossing: after reading a passage or section, summarize the main ideas in your own words. This summary can be done in a notebook or in the margins of your book (if you own it).
    • Outlining: using the author's order or your own, write down the key ideas. Use phrases and abbreviations to keep it short. Use whatever system of numbering or lettering you prefer.
    • Synthesizing chart: chart key information when you are trying to pull together information from more than one source OR read from a few sources and formulate questions from the main ideas which can be applied to the remaining information.
  • Instead of highlighting or underlining in your text, take notes in the margins or in a separate notebook. These notes will give you the important information at a glance. (If you take notes in a separate notebook, remember to write the page number on which the information may be found again for later reference.) Improving your reading skills may very well have a positive effect on your writing.

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