Reading comprehension is important for college students, especially when you are new to the college experience, have advanced classes with complex material, and have a variety of types of classes, such as business, chemistry and Chinese. Effective reading comprehension strategies and study tips will help you ace your college tests. Here are some tips on how to study and utilize successful reading strategies.
When I got to college, it was often difficult to remember everything I read. Sometimes I would space out and have no idea what was in that paragraph I just finished reading. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention and check your understanding as you go along.
1. Choose the right location to read
Be sure this place is conducive to study and concentration. “A poor physical setting can make reading far more difficult than it has to be, and yet a little planning can get around most of the harmful elements you may find. It is a question of motivation,” said a writer on the Dartmouth College website in the article The Reading Environment. Some elements for a comfortable environment:
- Enough light
- Well-ventilated, temperature-controlled room
- Comfortable reading position
- Holding the book at a focal distance about 18 inches from your eyes
- Free from all distractions, such as social media, phone, or even a pretty view out the window.
2. Don’t multitask
While many students think they can study with headphones on, multitasking is counterproductive when you need to concentrate and retain complex information. The brain works better when it puts all its concentration into one task at a time. Reading while it’s quiet will cut down on your studying time because you’ll understand most of it the first time you read it.
3. Break lengthy assignments into sections
“…For example, instead of reading 50 pages in one sitting, read 5 pages in the morning, another 5 pages over lunch, and 5 or 10 pages in the evening,” said Nate Erickson in “5 Essential Tips for College-level Reading Comprehension,” posted February 10, 2013, on Crown Online.
4. Look at things that stick out
Table of contents, pictures, photos, graphs, bold face type, italics, and anything else that sticks out. This will give you a quick visual image of what’s important, added Erickson.
5. Develop questions from headings and subheads
Then find the answers to those questions in the text. If you’re reading difficult material, stop and ask yourself questions so you can become engaged with the material. You can also create a sample test that can help you on exams. Also, note what the main concepts are in each section, so you can go back and review them when you’re finished reading the chapter.
6. Control your reading process
You can do this through reading comprehension regulation. As explained in Reading Comprehension on the Cuesta College website, “It is a plan for getting the most out of reading. It allows you to have an idea of what to expect from the text.” To get an idea of what the writer is trying to communicate, set goals based on your purpose for reading, preview the text to make predictions, ask questions, scan for pertinent information, and relate new information with what you’ve already learned.
7. Consider reading comprehension software
There are several products available. For example, Merit Solutions for College Prep develops critical thinking skills, and offers skill questions on readings of non-fiction passages. Gemm Learning software programs feature metacognition, which is the ability to read critically and self-correct as you go.