13 November 2015
Your college career depends largely on your ability to read well. However, it’s a fact that some of the most brilliant minds, including Albert Einstein, were not great readers. You may be frustrated if you understand advanced material but have trouble getting it from the page into your brain. Here are some tips on how to improve your reading skills and your grades.
Indulge in Pleasure Reading Daily
Sure, you spend most of your day reading textbooks and other course-related content. It is hoped that you enjoy at least some of what you’re reading. However, set aside some time before bed to read something you truly enjoy. Choose a magazine, chick lit, a classic novel, or the hottest creative nonfiction. When you’re engaged in what you’re reading, you’ll be more attentive and naturally improve your reading skills.
Allow Enough Time
Scheduling regular study times throughout the week is a good idea anyway, but particularly if you find reading challenging. Leaving all of your reading assignments for the last minute makes you feel pressured to fly through the material, which is never good for deep understanding or long-term memorization.
Read While You Listen
Listening to an audiobook as you follow along with a print version can be an enjoyable experience. While it may sound like overkill, this double-input method is a great way to improve weaker reading skills. Hearing the words pronounced aloud as you read them will improve your retention of vocabulary and your comprehension. Just be sure that your audiobook is an unabridged version; otherwise, you may have a hard time skipping ahead to the right spot in your book.
Read to Yourself
You may not have access to a recorded version of your school texts. If your roommate is gone frequently or tends to wear headphones a lot, try reading aloud as you study. Hearing the words may increase your comprehension and retention of the material.
Use a Reading App
It may contradict what we’ve said above, but if you’re an average reader, pronouncing words in your head as you read may slow you down. After all, you have the capacity to read words far faster than you can speak them. Therefore, while some people have reading difficulties that respond best to vocalization, others do better to quiet the voice in their head. An app like Syllable can actually teach you how to become a speed-reader.
Eliminate Distractions Online
Who can read when there are ads, links, pictures of cats, and other distractions on the margins of a webpage? Install a browser add-on or plugin that allows you to read a clean version of the primary content. You’ll read faster and remember more of what you read.
Use a Dictionary or Thesaurus
If you understand every word that you read in college textbooks, you’re probably a professor by now. Don’t just skip over unfamiliar words. That one definition may clarify an entire paragraph. Make sure you have a dictionary or thesaurus site or app nearby whenever you’re reading.
Take Care of Your Eyes
Even though you’re young, you’re staring at screens and pages for hours a day. Human eyes simply weren’t designed for so much effort. If you struggle even the slightest bit with reading, be sure to get an eye exam. Glasses or contacts might make a huge difference in your reading ability.
Furthermore, dry eyes are a common affliction today, so always have a bottle of artificial tears on hand. You blink less when you stare at a computer screen, so you’ll need to replenish that lost moisture regularly. The more comfortable your eyes are, the better you’ll be at reading.
Some people are natural-born readers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your skills significantly. Get into good reading habits and make use of the tools that are available to you. When you can read well, you can accomplish anything.
Useful samples and examples: