Tips on Reading your Course Material

Being a University Student can mean that you have an extensive amount of reading to do about different important concepts. Pretty much every course requires reading in one from or the other and in my experience I have never had to read quite as much as I have had to at University. Here are a few tips when reading your course material…

Quickly Skim the Chapter Before you Read it. A quick two minute skim read of the will increase your comprehension, increase your interest in the topic and reduce the time it takes to fully read the entire chapter. Just have a quick look at the introduction, any summaries and any graphics displayed.

Break Up your Reading. If you have a big chapter to read, or a chapter which requires a lot of concentration then try to break it up into bite-size pieces. This makes it a lot more manageable and easier to process.

Give Yourself Time to Read. If you have a reading assignment due in a few days spread out your workload. I know you always think that you can read it all just before the deadline, but the truth is if you do you will hardly absorb anything, meaning there’s no point in reading it in the first place. Space out your assignment and try reading a little bit everyday till you have done it. Remember it is all about time management.

Mark the Text or Take Notes. As you read the material for the first time it is always good to make notes after each paragraph or a headed section. You could even invest in some fancy highlighters and highlight key points in the text. Notes should consolidate your knowledge, so don’t start making them till you actually finish the paragraph.

Predict Questions. While taking notes you can try to predict questions that could be asked about the subject you are reading about. Try to answer these questions in your notes and asking yourself questions will always increase your understanding (see Feynman Technique).

Check Yourself Before you Break Yourself. At the end of each chapter try to answer the questions, if there are any, at the end of the chapter and make sure you understand the concepts!

Evaluate Your Reading. Check your understanding of the material by discussing it with a classmate, friend, or study group. If you can’t talk about it, you didn’t understand it. Test your marking and notes by comparing them with those of other classmates or by checking with your professor. Did you identify all of the important information? Were there questions on the test from your text that you missed in your marking or notes?

Consolidate. Check your understanding of the subject by talking about it with a classmate, friend or study group. If you cant talk about it you did not fully grasp the concepts. Or even better try to explain to someone else about what you learnt about. The best way to teach yourself is to teach others!

Hope these tips helped, and remember if you want to do well, you have to put the work in.

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