Many people take reading for granted, feeling they are too busy to read or just do not enjoy it. In reality, reading is an activity that can get you ahead in life. Reading for pleasure at least 20 minutes a day will improve your reading ability and in college it is important that you learn to read effectively when you study.
It helps if you keep flexible in what you read. This means reading different types of material. Read whatever interests you. It can be novels, newspapers, magazines and any other reading material. The way you read a newspaper will differ from the way you read a novel and reading your college textbooks will differ further.
In order to effectively read a textbook you must develop a successful strategy. There are many out there, but one successful strategy is SQ4R (Survey, Question, Read, Record, Recite, Reflect).
Survey: By surveying or previewing the reading you will familiarize yourself with the material. This will bring any prior knowledge you have on the material to the forefront of your memory. This can be done by quickly looking over the table of contents, introduction and index. You can also look at the chapter title and topic headings while quickly reviewing the introduction and reading the first sentence of each paragraph plus the chapter summary to know what material will be discussed and how it is presented.
Question: Have questions in mind when you read. This will make reading a critical thinking exercise which will focus your attention for specific information. When you read with a purpose it increases your concentration, comprehension, retention and sometimes your interest in the subject matter.
The questions you should have in mind can come from your instructor, worksheets or old tests or from the end of the chapter.
Read: Reading to memorize should not be your objective, but reading to understand the material and answer your questions should. Remain focused on your reading. Write down any questions you may have to be answered later. Reread sections as needed.
Record: After reading each section take time to reflect and summarize the information. By writing down information you will have notes to review and you will be able to process the information better putting it into your long-term memory.
To reinforce understanding, write your notes down in your own words. You can also write brief study notes under the chapter headings or titles to help you retrieve or recall certain information.
Recite: This is where having a study buddy helps. If you can explain the concepts to your friend, then you have mastered that material. Tell them (or yourself out loud, if you do not have a study partner) the major concepts of what you read in your own words.
Reflect (Review): This will help you enhance your long-term memory storage in order to retrieve the information when you need it. Review the material within 24 hours, again because it will move the information from your short-term to your long-term memory. And review often. The more you review, the more you will learn and retain.
There are other strategies or techniques other than the SQ4R. Find one that you feel comfortable with and practice it. There will be many textbooks you will have to read for college. Adopt a technique and all this reading will be of more benefit than you can imagine.