College students of this generation have a different way of gaining information than generations before them. Reading is often a tedious and unpleasant activity that college students put off until the last moment, if they do it at all. Thus college students tend to have difficulty in courses that test on material that was to be read, but is only lightly covered in lectures.
If you are like many students, your eyes will pass over the words in the written material, but when you finish a page, you don’t recall anything that you have read. Essentially the reading was a waste of your time.
Here are some things that you can do to make reading more effective.
- Preview before you read in order to see how the chapter is organized, and to think about your reading approach.
- Read actively and stay engaged in what you are reading by answering the questions you posed and by taking notes as you read.
Read a paragraph and then determine what test questions might be asked from the information in that paragraph.
- Write the test question and the answer on one of your flash cards (see the topic on Making Flash Cards).
- Look for the following information in the reading
- A definition
- A list
- A factual statement
- An example
- Anything bolded
- A name of a person and his/her contribution
- After you finish reading a section or a difficult process for the first time, recall what you read without looking back at the passages, to see what you learned and what parts are still fuzzy in your memory.
- Review and rehearse the information so you remember it.
Whenever there is a point that you captured on a flashcard is also mentioned in lecture, put a check on your flash card. These points are likely test questions.
Also consider which, if any, previous test questions came from the text. Try to look for a pattern for where previous test questions have come from such review questions. If a past test has had questions in a style similar to sections of the text book such as the chapter reviews or practice problems then it is likely that future test questions may be made in the same way. While doing this try to keep in mind just how much of a detailed answer your professor will be expecting.
Another idea to try is copying down the information that you feel is the most important from the previous paragraph. Once you have finished reading the paragraph and written down the key points, go over what you have written down to further embed the information into your mind. Constant reminding is a great way to retain information that has to be read. If you were going to tell a friend about the information, what are the main points you would tell them? That is the material you need to put into your notes. Read your notes from the assigned reading several times then move onto something else for a little bit then back to your notes on the reading just to see what is starting to look more familiar.
While this process will take a little longer to read the content, it makes the reading process more effective. Also you will save time when it comes to studying for tests because you won’t have to review the text when you are studying..