How to Develop College Level Reading Skills*
College students are expected to read actively and critically.
This means more than
passing the words in front of your eyes while you are half-asleep, or listening to music, or
talking to your friends, or eating, or all of the above.
It also means more than simply
finishing the assigned number of pages: you will be expected to retain information about
and be ready to respond to the complexity of the works you encounter.
suggestions will help you actively read any text.
Active reading is also integral to effective writing.
As you read, use some of the
following suggested techniques to summarize, process, contemplate, question, critique,
and more fully engage with the book, chapter, or article.
The skills outlined below will
be a crucial component of your studies throughout your college career.
You should keep
this reading guide as a tool for future reference.
Before You Read
Before we even begin to read, we begin to form assumptions that shape our reading.
Expert readers recognize that books are judged, in some way, by their cover.
following questions to help you think about your 'pre-judgments.'
What does the title evoke?
What does it tell you about the reading; what does it
How does the cover (the photo, the layout and design, the writing on front and
back) affect your expectations for the book?
Have you heard anything about this book or its author before?
What does the
cover tell you about the author?
When was the book published?
Is this the first edition, an updated and revised
edition, or the 12
Is the publisher an academic press such as the
University of California Press or Oxford University Press?
What does the book's formatting (its chapter structure, notes, preface, glossary,
bibliography, etc.) indicate about the text?
Do any sections invite you to read
them rather than starting at page one?
How does the fact that the book has been assigned for critical study (rather than