Toggle navigation

What strategies can I use for effective reading?

The texts you are expected to read at University are often complex and may contain challenging ideas, so it is likely that reading will take you longer than when you read for pleasure. Your reading speed will increase as you become more familiar with the subject. Try these tips:

  • Skim read through quickly without making notes to get a basic understanding, and then read through again to get a deeper understanding.
  • Use a ruler or pencil to keep your eyes moving at a good pace down the page. Move it slightly faster than your normal reading speed. The YouTube video Speedreading: using guides shows how to do this.
  • Read the first and last lines of each paragraph to get a basic framework of the text (these often signpost the main points).
  • Read a chunk of text (a paragraph or a page) before taking notes.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Read in a quiet environment without distractions or noise

There are a number of useful resources available on how to read effectively at University. Brunel University have created a document called Reading Effectively which includes using the SQ3R method (Rowntree, 1976); Survey, Question, Recall & Review, a strategy which you may find useful when you need to study a topic in depth or when you are revising. Manchester University have put together a number of comprehensive webpages on reading, which include topics such as different reading styles, speed reading, active reading & study reading.