Salisbury University students on campus

Reading Skills

Have you ever found yourself reading an assignment for class then completely forgetting what you just read? It has happened to many of us but by making a few changes in your reading habits, you can improve your reading retention. Here are some tips to help improve your reading comprehension:

Skim through the chapter before reading it. Look at the text features such as the title, captions, pictures, diagrams, bold print, etc. Also look at the introduction and chapter summary. This will help you estimate the time it will take to read the chapter and how to budget that time accordingly.

  • Read early in the day instead of late at night. You will be able to concentrate and retain more information when you are wide awake rather than when you are tired. It's also a good idea to read in between classes.
  • Read for short periods of time instead of one long sitting. Read for about 35-40 minutes then take a short break. This will enable you to focus on the material and increase concentration.
  • Find a quiet area to read. Usually residence halls or dorm lounges are not the best places to read. There are too many distractions that are not beneficial for quality reading. The library or study lounges on campus are great places to get reading and other work completed.
  • Monitor your own comprehension. Every once in a while ask yourself what you have learned or what the section you just read was about. If you are unable to answer then re-read the selection or ask a classmate or the professor.

Are you a student who highlights what you read? This is sometimes a helpful tool but you must be careful because always highlighting what you read may cause you to become a passive reader. Passive readers are continually re-reading the highlighted material and may have the tendency to become lazy readers, just highlighting a majority of the text. Therefore when you go back to your reading, you may not know what they key points were of that selection.

Are you a student who reads the material hours at a time just to get it done? Even though you think you are saving time by getting it all out of the way at once, you are actually hurting yourself in the long run. When you read it all at once you become a lazy reader and develop a lower retention of the material. Instead of really focusing your attention on the critical points, you are more likely to day dream or space out.