12 Reading Review

Reading, like learning, involves a cycle of preparing, absorbing, recording, and reviewing. In your education, you will be expected to do much reading; it is not unusual to do two or more hours of reading for every hour you spend in class. You are also expected to think critically about what you read.

Effective reading involves several steps:

  1. Prepare for reading by scanning the assignment and developing questions for which you want to discover answers through your reading.
  2. Read the material and discover the answers to your questions.
  3. Capture the information by highlighting and annotating the text as well as by taking effective notes.
  4. Review the reading by studying your notes, by integrating them with your class notes, and by discussing the reading with classmates.

Before you read, learn as much as you can about the author and their reason for writing the text. What is their area of expertise? Why did the instructor select this text? When scanning a reading, look for clues to what might be important. Read the section titles, study illustrations, and look for keywords and boldface text. Do not highlight your text until you have read a section completely to be sure you understand the context. Then go back and highlight and annotate your text during a second read-through.

Think critically about what you are reading. Do you agree with what the author is saying? How does it relate to the rest of the material in the course? What does this new material mean to you in “real life”?

Special Texts and Situations

  • Do all the exercises in math textbooks; apply the formulas to real-world situations.
  • Practice “reading” the illustrations. Each type of graphic material has its own strength or purpose.
  • Look for statements of hypotheses and experimental design when reading science texts.
  • History, economics, and political science texts are heavily influenced by interpretation. Think critically about what you are reading.
  • Working with foreign language texts requires more time and more frequent breaks. Don’t rely on word-for-word translations.
  • If you need to read with children around, don’t put off your reading until you have a large block of time; learn to read in short periods as available.
  • When reading on the Internet, be extra diligent to evaluate the source of the material to decide how reliable that source may be.
  • If English is your second language, seek out resources that may be offered on campus or at your institution. In any case, be patient with the process of mastering advanced-level English. And always remember this: what feels like a disadvantage in one situation can be a great gift in another situation.


  • Reading and vocabulary development are closely linked. A stronger vocabulary makes reading easier and more fun; the best way to build a vocabulary is to read.
  • Look for new words everywhere, not just in class.
  • When you encounter a new word, follow these steps:

    1. Write it down and write down the sentence in which it was used.
    2. Infer its meaning based on the context and word roots.
    3. Look it up in a dictionary.
    4. Write your own sentence using the word.
    5. Say the word, its definition, and your sentence out loud.
    6. Find an opportunity to use the word within two days.

Exercise: Make an Action List

Reading Action List
Things I will do to improve Actions By when I except to take the action How I will know I accomplished the action
My reading comprehension/understanding 1.


My reading speed 1.


My vocabulary 1.


Text Attributions

  • This chapter was adapted from “Chapter Activities” in College Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution (and republished by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing), which is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Licence. Adapted by Allison Kilgannon.


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Reading Review Copyright © 2021 by Allison Kilgannon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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