Academic Reading Strategies


This work was created by Shawna Shapiro PH.D. Middlebury College

Preview text (alone or with classmates)

  • Consider purpose for reading (To prepare for lecture? To write a response?)
  • Look at overall length, organization, headings, visuals, keywords/main concepts. ect.
  • Reflect on your own background and prior knowledge and make some connections
    • Consider doing a short internet search if needed to build up your knowledge base if content is completely unfamilar
  • Predict what the overall agrument(s) might be.
  • Try to consider WHY this reading was assigned. What does it offer, in relation to the class overall?

As you read

  • Notice(or form) sections in the reading.
  • Consider the best sequence of reading: (Intro/conclusion first?)
  • Try to identify main arguments, thinking about the "new" perspective this author brings.
  • Engage physically with the text (margin notes and symbols, underlining) or make a reading log.
  • Test yourself at various points: See if you can summarize the author's main points and offer some kind of response/reaction
  • Take breaks as needed (usually brain efficiency peaks within 15-20 minutes)
  • Don't look up every word you don't know
  • Don't try to memorize everything in the reading
  • Don't worry if you only understand parts of the reading

After you read

  • Try to predict what concepts, points, and examples might be brought up in discussion
  • At a minimum, try to come out with "3,2,1"
    • 3 main points or concepts
    • 2 comments or connections
    • 1 question
  • Re-evaluate your strategies over time
    • Are you able to meet your goals? (to participate in class discussion, write the response paper, use the reading in another way?)
    • Consider using different strategies with different kinds of readings