The many benefits of independent reading ‹ ef academy blog

Do you feel like you spend too much time reading textbooks? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of information they contain? Do you have sầu a hard time focusing or figuring out what’s important? Textbooks can be tedious and difficult, but they contain many features designed to help you learn. This handout will provide practical strategies lớn help you read textbooks more effectively. Effective sầu reading strategies can ensure that you truly comprehend the course material, come to class prepared, & persize better on class assignments and exams.

How textbooks are unique

Textbooks contain numerous features that you don’t always encounter in novels, articles, or other types of texts. These features provide a wealth of information & clues about the text. You should always spkết thúc a few minutes previewing a chapter or section before you start to lớn read so that you can get an idea of the main concepts in that section. This will help you khổng lồ have sầu a better purpose and focus going inkhổng lồ the reading and will help you khổng lồ be able to pull out the important ideas more easily.

Active reading strategies

Many students approach reading textbooks by opening up the book & starting with the first sentence in the chapter. They then typically fall inkhổng lồ one of two categories: those who painstakingly read each word và copy pages of notes for hours, or those who casually skim over the words & flip the pages. Though very different, both approaches are passive sầu in that they don’t involve sầu active, critical thought—the first approach turns the reader into lớn a copying machine, and the second is much less time-consuming but doesn’t include any active engagement with the text. Neither approach leads khổng lồ a high cấp độ of comprehension or retention of what you just read.

Instead, research shows that active sầu reading strategies lead khổng lồ comprehension & retention & help students perkhung better in classes. Active sầu reading strategies are ones in which you force your brain lớn actually vày something (something effective và research-backed) while reading your textbook. Below are some practical and effective active reading strategies that you can try to get the most out of your reading time.

Strategies before you read


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Look through the text features in the chapter (headings, titles, graphs, bold words, etc.) to gain clues about the main concepts and important elements of the chapter. Pay special attention to lớn these features when previewing your textbook:

Titles, headings, & subtitlesIllustrations, graphs, charts, visualsVocabulary lists, glossariesEnd of chapter summariesIntroductionsĐánh Giá questions và practice problemsSpecial interest boxes & notes in marginsBold words

Get lớn know your digital reading platsize. Digital or e-textbooks may have sầu some additional features. Does the digital format encourage a specific reading path, or is it easy khổng lồ jump around? Can you bookmark pages, or are there other ways khổng lồ save sầu your progress? If you follow a hyperliên kết, how vì you get bachồng khổng lồ where you were before? Getting to know the structure of your e-textbook & seeing how page or section navigation works will save you time in the long run.

Begin at the end. Read the summary, vocab menu, chapter questions, & practice problems first khổng lồ gain an idea of the most important aspects of the section và what you are expected to know and understand after reading it.

Activate prior knowledge. Make a danh mục of what you already know about the topic & what you want to know about it/questions you have about it.

Set a purpose. Based on what you gathered in your previewing, phối a purpose for why you are reading this chapter & what you need khổng lồ understvà, know, or be able to do after reading it.

Make predictions. Right after previewing, make a prediction about what you think this chapter or section is going to lớn be about.

Strategies while you read

Figure out the main idea. Focus on first sentences and text features for main ideas of each paragraph or section as you read. These often contain the main idea, while the other sentences in the paragraph provide tư vấn & details.

Use questions to find answers. Convert major headings and topics into lớn questions, then read for answers.

Finish an entire section or page before taking notes.

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When you vì take notes, keep them brief, focus on main ideas, và put them in your own words. Cheông xã out our note-taking handout for more recommendations on effective sầu note-taking.

Try skimming. Check out our handout about skimming lớn read about how to lớn skim effectively và purposefully.

Generate questions. As you read, write down questions that you have sầu about the text. Also, create questions that you would ask on a demo if you were a professor giving a test about this chapter (use them to lớn self-kiểm tra later).

Stop và summarize. After every section (or page), stop & write a brief summary of what you just read in your own words from memory.

Keep it short. Tackle no more than 5-10 pages at a time. Space your reading out across the day và week as opposed lớn cramming it all inlớn hour-long sessions. Chechồng out our time management handouts to find some calendars and resources lớn help you chunk your reading.

Make connections. Before, during, or after reading, make connections between the material và your own life, the world, & other texts/course material you have sầu learned.

Strategies after reading

Re-visit the chapter later. Instead of re-reading the chapter this time, focus on the main concepts. Make note of how content covered in class connects with the material in the chapter.

Organize your thoughts. Make an outline or concept bản đồ lớn help you syntheform size & map out information visually. Ideally, start from memory & create all you can without looking at your textbook to better get a grasp of what you know well và what you need to study; then use your textbook for reference in filling out what you didn’t know well. This technique will aid your retention much more than over-relying on the textbook.

Make flashcards. Create flashcards for key terms, dates, people, etc. & use them for self-testing. Answer the question/define the word yourself before flipping the card over & looking at the answer.

Utilize other resources

Academic Coaching: Make an appointment with an academic coach to lớn discuss textbook reading one-on-one and hear about other resources.

Learning Center Online Tools: Chechồng out all of our related handouts & videos, including note-taking, reading journal articles, annotating texts, và many more.

Learning Center workshops: Attend a workshop about reading strategies, facilitated by one of our academic coaches.

Office Hours: Schedule an appointment with your professor khổng lồ discuss the course và textbook further.

Works consulted

Fundamentals: Previews, Read, Rehotline. Oregon State University. Retrieved from

Jensen, M., & Scharff, L. (2019). Improving critical reading with E-texts: A controlled study in a collegiate philosophy course. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching và Learning, 19(3) doi:

Reading khổng lồ Remember: Textbook Strategies. Willamette University. Retrieved from

SQ3R Improving Reading Comprehension. Virginia Tech University. Retrieved from

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