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Textbook reading strategies

Reading a college textbook is very different than reading for pleasure.

The amount of reading required in college is much greater than in high school. For many students the increased number and length of college reading assignments is a new demand on their time and energy. They may not be fully prepared to undertake this level of participation. College students need to adopt a reading method that will help increase their comprehension of complex material.

Suggestions to maximize comprehension when reading a college text:

  1. After buying your textbooks, spend an hour or more surveying the material in each text.
  2. Read required assignments before attending each class. The lecture will then be a review of the material, not an introduction to new information.
  3. Break lengthy reading assignments into small segments. For example, a 50-page reading assignment can be separated into five 10-page blocks of time. Students are less likely to become discouraged with a more reachable goal.
  4. Pay attention to how often your attention wanders when reading your textbooks. Analyze why your attention is more focused when reading certain material.
    • Do you prefer one class over another?
    • Are you reading your most difficult material when you are tired?
    • Have you chosen a location with few distractions in which to study?
    • Improve your reading skills by developing a reading/study method. Use a reading system to increase your comprehension and assist your ability to recall and evaluate the material.

    The reading system encouraged at Columbia College is the SQ3R reading method.

    The following five steps are the components to this reading system:

    • Survey
    • Question
    • Read
    • Recite
    • Review

    This reading system allows students to actively participate in reading even the most difficult class assignments. It requires the reader to interact and respond to the information in the text. Follow this link for a more in-depth look at the SQ3R reading system.


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