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Another year, another reading list…

So, maybe you don’t enjoy school books, but to do well, you have to learn how to read well. Below are some tips for optimizing reading comprehension and speed.


When you get your school books:

Flip though (even before you are assigned to read), and get the lay of the land.

Look for:

  • The Title — The main theme — What it’s about and what it’s not about.
  • Table of Contents The master plan and goal, broken down in steps. Notice where the book starts and ends.
  • The Index — Topics in book, arranged alphabetically. Good for referring to when you want to find something specific (for example, The Federalist Papers).
  • Introduction — A message from the author that tells why the book is important.

One you are assigned to read the book, preview the chapter. Look for signposts. Read for the main idea and supporting details.

Chapter signposts:

  • Chapter title
  • Section headings
  • Paragraph heads
  • Introductory paragraphs
  • Summary paragraphs (the end)
  • Topic sentences
  • Illustrations
  • Margin titles

Outlines can be your best friend. Always write them — for papers, studying, etc. You will an easier time with everything if you organize yourself from the get-go.