Friday, October 31, 2008

Strategies to Improve Your Reading

Your reading ability is one of your most important abilities. For most decent jobs out there, good reading skills are crucial. A lawyer has to read hundreds of pages of legal documents per day. Doctors and researchers have to read scientific literature. Have you ever tried reading scientific or medical journal articles. They are definitely not the easiest type of reading. My point is: improving your reading skills is crucial in furthering your academic and professional career.

Below, I've provided a list of reading techniques. Practice these techniques in English labs or in your own time. They are not meant to be used last minute for a test, but they are to be practiced over a period of time. Experiment and observe what works. You may need to adjust or revise these techniques according to your individuality. After you practice and experiment enough, your reading abilities will improve which will be very useful for the rest of your college years and your career.

1. If there are reading questions, quickly read the questions once. (If they are multiple choice questions, do not read the answer choices. Read only the questions.
2. Survey or scan: Quickly read the first sentence of each paragraph and read the last paragraph.
3. Read to obtain in-depth understanding of everything the author is trying to communicate to you, the reader. Use your finger to guide you along the page. “Don’t feel you have to rush.” (Stanley D. Frank)
4. As you are reading, annotate (or mark up the reading).
There are many ways to annotate depending on what works for you. One of the simplest ways is to “sum up” each paragraph or section with a sentence or phrase on the left or right margin of the reading passage, in addition to underlining the IMPORTANT points.
If this reading is for a test, you should read it a second time and a third time (at least).
5. Write the main point of the reading in one sentence.
6. Summarize the reading. (A good summary includes all the important points, beginning with the main point of the entire reading. It will leave out the insignificant details. A good summary is as brief as possible but includes ALL the IMPORTANT POINTS).
Note: It is very probable for an English departmental final exam (in CUNY) to have a question asking you to summarize the reading.

Additional tips:
Before reading. Take a few deep breaths and enter a relaxed (yet focused and alert) state. Eliminate any fear, doubt, or worries. Know that you are intelligent and can easily understand the reading completely.

Copyright: © 2008. This document is the sole property of Amadeo Constanzo. You may use this article for free on your web site, blog, or other publication if and only if you include this entire copyright notice including the following links and statement. Other free teachings from Amadeo Constanzo can be found at and

Shu Chan 陳樹中 Terence Chan LIU

Terence Chan LIU Long Island University