Getting More Out of Your Reading

Reading class material can help you get more out of class lectures, gain information not in the lectures, give you more examples and applications and help you perform well on exams. How you go about reading will determine how much you get out of it. The following strategies were designed to work with how people learn and remember best.

Some Methods

The methods described below will help you to think critically, remember information with greater efficiency and use time wisely. Each method has several steps described for you below.

Consider "SQ3R"

Survey-- This provides a basic idea about what you need to read. Look over the material. Flip through the pages and read picture captions, graphs and maps. Read the introduction and conclusion. Notice key words in bold or italics and headings
Question-- Think about what you already do know and need to know from the reading. Turn the headings into questions or use review questions to determine what you are looking for while you read. This active thinking will help you focus on the material.
Read-- Actively read the entire section to search for the answers to your questions. Skim the less important sections.
Recite-- After you are done reading a section, attempt to answer your questions from memory. Writing the answers down will be helpful for future review. If you canít answer the question, consider going back over the section.
Review-- When you are done with the chapter, go back through your notes, questions and the chapter. Skim through the material as you answer your questions to check yourself for accuracy.

Consider "PROR"

Pre-readóActivate previous knowledge as you discover the chapterís focus. Create interest and anticipate what you will need to know.
ReadóBe selective, create meaningful organization, and put notes or key words in the margin.
OrganizeóReduce the information into an organization that makes sense to you and put it into your own words and summaries.
Review- Review it by summarizing orally or taking notes, reduce it further and organize more. Practice the information and spread out the learning over time.

Donít Forget to Evaluate Yourself

Whenever you read, evaluate how well you are concentrating, integrating class lecture and text material, your speed, how your eyes are feeling, and your understanding of the vocabulary.

General Tips

Keep rereading to a minimum. Your time is better spent skimming and organizing material. If you highlight, try not to overdo it. You should be able to keep the number of items you highlight to 4 or 5 per page. Watch out for passages that describe cause and effect or compare and contrast. These will have valuable information. If a text offers questions and answers in sections or as a review, do them. Look for relational words like first, second, third, plus, further, conversely, and never the less. Look for conclusive words like thus and therefore. Coordinate your class notes and text material. One good way to do this is to simply leave room for text notes to be added to your class notes. For example, leave a column on the page to add text notes as you review. Read in an environment that helps you read. For example, be comfortable, but not so much that you fall asleep. Get good lighting and some peace and quiet. There are times when we are challenged to get through material because we are overwhelmed, bored to death, or confused. These are times when skimming the material may be helpful and a thorough read can be done later if needed. Become familiar with what is in your textbook. Know where the glossary, appendices and indexes are. Sometimes it is helpful to diagram the structure of your reading. Unless you are a very efficient outline maker, do not outline your reading. Although this is an extremely effective way to organize and remember material, most students get so bogged down in creating the outline that they donít get the information.


Association of American Publishers. (1985). How to Get the Most Out of Your Textbook. New York Williams, K.

Williams, K. (1989). Study Skills. London: Macmillan Education Limited.

Gall, M.D., Gall, J.P., Jacobsen, D.R., & Bullock, T. L. (1990). Tools for Learning.