You've got plans to go to that big show this weekend, but you've got that book at home. You know, the book you have to read for class next week?
If you want the good grades that go with an impressive GPA at a university level, you’ve got to read. However, building friendships and having a social life during this time in your life is also important. It may seem like an impossible task to balance the two, but if you take your time and make smart choices about your workload, you'll finish the book with enough time to catch the opening act this weekend.
1. Pace yourself
No matter how fast you can read, if you wait until the last minute to crack open your book you won’t have a critical understanding of the ideas presented in the text. Time management is the name of the game. That means dividing your reading into manageable chunks, and set aside some time each day to sit down and get it done. Try doing some reading while you are waiting for the train, on the bus, or on your break if you work outside of school. Set yourself a reading schedule and stick to it, you'll be done before you know it.
2. Use a study aid
It's important to use all the resources available to you. Before you dive head first into your reading, take some time to look at some study aids like SparkNotes or CliffsNotes to familiarize yourself with the text. This will help give you an outline of the upcoming reading, letting you know what to expect. Don't rely too heavily on the study aids, though! Not all books are on Sparknotes or CliffNotes. In that case, create your own study guide by providing summaries of each chapter (see tip #4). Plus, your professors will be testing you on the full text, not the SparkNotes!
3. Join or create a study group
Working together in groups is the best way to maximize your resources in a university setting. Use social media to set up a meeting time before class so that you can go over the reading with other students. This is a good opportunity to talk to your peers about the reading and prepare yourself for an in-class discussion. At University of California Berkeley, faculty are encouraged that students “can benefit from peer teaching-explanations, comments, and instruction from their course-mates.” Take advantage of your classroom setting, and help each other get through that book.
4. Write a short summary
After you have finished your reading for the day, sit down and type out a short summary to refer back to when it’s time to study for the exam or when it’s time to write that paper. The summary should layout the important points and ideas of the text in your own words. That way, you can refer back to your notes instead of flipping and scanning over pages in the full text. By the end of the book, you will have a set of notes so comprehensive that everyone will want a copy!
Follow these tips and you'll be able to work your way through even the most boring book easily. Check out some more reading comprehension tips from Scholastic to help make your work easier.
How to get good grades in college. (n.d.). Retrieved from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Healthy living. (n.d.). Retrieved from UCLA
Managing time for success in college. (n.d.). Retrieved from University of Wisconsin Green Bay
Cornerstone: The Center for Advanced Learning (n.d.). Reading skills. Retrieved from Cornerstone: The Center for Advanced Learning
Davis, B. (1993). Using groups in classes & encouraging study groups. Retrieved from University of California, Berkeley
Drew University On-Line Resources for Writers. (n.d.). The key features of a summary. Retrieved from Drew University
Beal. (2014, March 21). Reading comprehension strategies. Retrieved from Scholastic
Photo courtesy of Mo Riza