Reading Textbooks

 University readings may not be as easy to understand or remember as other types of reading. Explore these guidelines for reading difficult text material and getting the most of the time (and money) you put into your textbooks.


  • Set aside reading time for each course every week, based on your course outlines
    • Don’t expect to read and understand too much at one sitting
    • Develop the habit of reading regularly to increase confidence and comprehension and decrease anxiety and feeling lost in lectures
  • Learn SQR textbook strategies to decrease the need to re-read again!
    • Make study questions from your readings for practice testing
      • These are especially helpful for introductory courses heavy with detail
      • For broader courses, focus more on themes and the ‘big picture’
      • For math courses, focus more on problem solving and practice
    • Schedule an appointment for help with your specific courses
  • Summarize your readings for lectures and assignments so that you can more easily remember for exams and refer back for writing essays
    • Mark or highlight your text sparingly: no more than 15-25% of any one page
      • Write study questions in the margins for practice testing
      • Evaluate your own underlining or highlighting:
        • Does your marking convey the key idea of the passage?
        • Can you follow the progression of ideas by reading only the highlighting?
  • Try using outlines or making   mind maps especially for complicated material
  • Explore Texthelp Read & Write for assistive technology to help with reading text out loud and understanding unfamiliar words. This program is installed on all campus lab computers and is free to download for all students!
  • Avoid reading from computer screens in a dark room. Adjusting the monitor or using non-reflective lenses, filters or screens may reduce eye strain.