Reading Skills and Strategies for Students

Reading Skills and Strategies for Students

student reading

One of the things students soon realize about college is that they must learn most things on their own, and often, this requires them to locate resources outside the classroom. This is not a foreign idea for those accustomed to finding a tutor in working math problems or writing essays; but, when it comes to asking for help in reading and comprehending a textbook, students are sometimes hesitant to reveal any difficulties they may be experiencing.

We all know how to read, right? It’s just a matter of concentrating and re-reading until we get it, right?

Wrong. This is a misconception, and it is common. When it comes to reading, we may have little idea of what we know and what we don’t know. In other words, we lack metacognitive skills. Something we must all remember is that most people, no matter how much practice we have had, can improve in reading. This is particularly true when we must read about an unfamiliar topic, and this happens frequently in college.

Becoming acquainted with the academic resources of a campus is vital to one’s success, and self-study is key. Take the time to browse and study the information in this site. Students who know how to assess their understanding, apply fix-up strategies, access information, develop prior knowledge, determine main ideas, build vocabulary, draw inferences, and ask critical questions are better prepared to cope with the rigors of psychology, biology, and history.

The following links can get you started, but the more you learn, the more you will want to know. Learning is a life-long process. Enjoy!

Reading Strategies

Study Guides and Strategies: This site, available in 39 languages, provides extensive coverage of all things related to student success.

Quizlet: This site provides a simple, free, learning tool for creating online flashcards, games, and quizzes to be used for memorizing vocabulary and other information.

Pre-reading Strategies: Learn more about what to do just before you read.

Pre-reading: Learn the steps involved in pre-reading and how it can increase your understanding.

Study Guides and Strategies: These strategies help readers determine what they know about a subject before they begin to read and how to build their prior knowledge as they read.

SQ3R Textbook Study Method: Learn how SQ3R can help you read with purpose and comprehension.

21 Tips for Effective Textbook Reading: This resource offers tips for how to successfully read your textbook.

Interpreting Texts Critically: Asking Questions: This resource from Empire State College, explains how readers question as they read, think about what the author wants them to believe, and makes decisions about the author’s points.

Ten Tips to Improve Your Reading Comprehension: In this YouTube clip, an instructor discusses strategies he uses to understand what he reads.

Quick Tips for Better Reading: This article from Niagra University discusses simple strategies to make you a better reader.

Reading Difficult Texts

Some Tips for Reading Difficult or Challenging Material: This article discusses how to be an active reader.

Active Learning: Learn the difference between active and passive learning and how you might be tricking yourself into thinking you are studying effectively when you are really wasting your time.

Active vs. Passive Textbook Readers: Take a test to determine if you are an active or passive reader, then learn to read more actively and productively.

Making Sense of Confusing Sentences: Sometimes a single sentence makes the difference in how well you comprehend a textbook passage. Learn strategies that will help you understand long and confusing sentences.

Reading College Textbooks: This handout offers tips for before, during and after reading that will increase your understanding of college textbooks.

Reading Aloud to Comprehend Difficult Texts and Retain Information

Textbook Reading Strategies: From Baylor University, this site provides a step-by-step strategy for reading a textbook.

Checklist for Reading Fiction and Nonfiction: Check to see if you are following simple steps that will help you better understand both fiction and nonfiction reading.

Critical Reading: This article from Niagra University explains how to move beyond simply reading words to asking critical questions that will help you fully understand the author’s purpose and ideas.

Marking the Text: This resource explains why, when and how to mark text. Also included is a sample annotated passage.

Annotating Textbooks: Learn how to effectively mark you textbooks as you read.


Reading texts-Marking & Underlining: This article provides a step-by-step sequence for reading and taking notes.

Highlighting and Marking Textbooks: Discover how to highlight your textbooks so that important information and possible text questions are easier to locate and study.

Taking Notes: 5 College Success Tips: This site includes suggestions such as going to class prepared, improving listening skills, developing a note-taking method that works for you, paying close attention to the content, and reviewing and editing your notes.

Taking Notes in College: What Not to Do: : This handout will help you avoid common mistakes that cause your note taking to be ineffective.


Effective Paraphrasing: From Walden University, this site shows examples of effective and ineffective paraphrasing.


Summarizing: This article offers tips into how to effectively summarize paragraphs, articles and complex articles.

Reading Comprehension Skills

Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions: This site provides help with what to do when information is not stated by the author. There are examples of how to predict meanings of unfamiliar words.

Reading Rate

Active Reading: Comprehension and Rate:This site from Dartmouth offers numerous articles and videos on how to improve your reading comprehension.

Reading and Studying Strategies for Specific Disciplines

The following handouts offer strategies for reading and comprehending textbooks as well as how to study for tests in a variety of academic subjects.

How to Study for the Sciences

Math and Science Test Taking Tips

Studying History