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Active Reading September 7, 2005 Self-Evaluation Does your mind go blank when you take a test? Have you ever done poorly on a test even though you read the chapter two or three times? When reading is it hard to remember what you read a few pages ago?

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active reading

Active Reading

September 7, 2005

self evaluation
  • Does your mind go blank when you take a test?
  • Have you ever done poorly on a test even though you read the chapter two or three times?
  • When reading is it hard to remember what you read a few pages ago?
  • Feel like you know what you read but you can’t explain it?
  • Do you feel like you should be getting more from your textbooks?
active reading3
Active Reading
  • Reading textbooks is not like reading novels.
  • Efficient and effective reading allows you to read many more pages of text in less time.
  • Active reading improves your recall and understanding.
  • Active reading allows you to better grasp complicated reading material.
get acquainted
Get Acquainted
  • Buy your textbooks as early as you can.
    • If you’re certain of the books you need, buy them before classes start.
  • Get familiar with each book
    • Read the introduction
    • Look at the table of contents
    • Does it have a glossary?
    • What’s the vocabulary like?
take your time
Take your time
  • When beginning a reading assignment, make sure you have an idea of how long it will take
    • Break the reading into manageable chunks
    • Find the right speed for you
      • Too fast, and you miss important information
      • Too slow, you’re probably paying too much attention to unimportant detail
    • Don’t fall behind!
do s of active reading
Do’s of Active Reading
  • Read in an environment that works for you
    • Well-lit, free of distractions
      • You may need to move around
      • If you fall asleep while reading, sit up – don’t lie down
  • Take breaks
    • What’s your concentration limit?
  • Read every day (even weekends)
  • Be creative and thoughtful
    • Mark your books (but don’t mark every word)
  • Read while you’re alert
  • Read out loud if the material is complicated
don ts of active reading
Don’ts of Active Reading
  • Don’t study in bed.
  • Don’t have the TV on while you study
  • Don’t play music while you read
    • Some people need background noise, though
  • Don’t plan to read for hours at a time
  • Don’t read when you’re sleepy
  • Don’t fall behind
  • Don’t wait till the last minute
mark your book
Mark your book!
  • Forget selling your books back to the bookstore.
  • Make notes in the margin
    • Don’t highlight while reading
  • If you don’t understand something, put a question mark by it.
is there a secret
Is there a Secret?
  • Preview
  • Question
  • Read
  • Reflect
  • Recite
  • Review


  • What is the reading about?
  • How complicated is it?
  • How long is it? Do I need to break it into chunks?
  • Is it related to lecture topics?
  • Do I need a dictionary?

Do all this before you start reading

  • What questions will this reading answer?
  • Use headings in the readings
  • Use lecture notes to guide questions
  • Suggestion: make index cards with the major points, headings, or questions.
  • Break the assignment into chunks and read it.
  • Possible strategies:
    • Keep a pen in your hand (not a highlighter). Use it.
    • Use a tape recorder to record interesting, important, or useful phrases.
    • Make sketches as you read.
    • Engage the author in a conversation – ask questions and let the author answer them
    • Don’t memorize yet. Try to hear the author’s message
  • Just what it sounds like – think about the reading.
    • How does the reading relate to lecture topics?
    • How does it fit with or challenge what you already know?
    • What are the answers to the questions that you asked
  • After you reflect, go back and highlight important points.
  • Explain what you read
  • Strategies –
    • Write a one-sentence summary of each main segment.
    • Explain the reading out loud to yourself or someone else.
    • Draw a flowchart that shows connections between ideas in the reading.
  • This is where you learn what you understand and what you don’t understand.
  • Go back over the reading
    • Wait a day or two.
  • See whether you remember the main concepts, even without looking at the book.
  • Ask a question in class or office hours about something you didn’t quite get.
  • Focus on the hardest material
did you know
Did you know?
  • When most professors read books, they use this strategy. We almost never read something just once from start to finish.