No matter the area of study, reading is a vital part of every college course. Nonetheless, as time goes on, reading assignments are usually the first thing that students put off. There isn’t a quick fix that sends you blazing through textbooks, but there are some things you can do to avoid falling behind.
Have a schedule.
Reading too fast will always damage your understanding of the text. Not only is time management the most valuable part of reading, but it’s also essential for comprehending and retaining information. Organize your deadlines, divide up how many pages or chapters you have to read a day and set aside a specific amount of time for it.
Stay away from your electronic devices.
During reading times, don’t touch your computer or phone. A five-minute phone break can easily turn into a thirty-minute Facebook browse.
For textbooks, skim the chapters first.
Focus on section titles, bolded text, emphasized definitions and summaries. After skimming, start over and read at a normal pace. You’ll understand the subject matter better and, as a result, will read much faster.
Watch the movie or listen to audio books.
Can’t muscle your way through a Shakespeare play? Watch a movie that sticks to the script. This can condense one or two weeks of readings into a few hours. Audio books are also great for novel readers who want to clean the house, exercise or simply rest their eyes without wasting time.
Find a good reading spot.
Where you read is just as important as when and how you read. Find a reading position that will neither strain your body, nor put you to sleep. If your home is comfortable but full of distractions, it’s worth going out of your way to find a quieter environment. A peaceful area will allow you to read in one hour what might have taken two or three.
Try to avoid sites like SparkNotes.
If you start to fall behind, avoid sites like Sparknotes unless you’re in a corner. Their summaries and overviews hurt the reading experience and rarely provide the details that professors look for on essays, quizzes and exams.
Reading assignments aren’t like writing papers or other coursework. Without physical material to turn in, we feel that there’s no consequence to postponing them another day.
But if we get past this mindset and look at the big picture, we’ll see that working hard to keep up with the readings is essential to doing well in class.
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