Capetown Student Accomodation

How Can Reading Strategies Help University Students?

Have you ever read a page of a book and then stopped short, realising that you have absolutely no idea what you’ve just read? There’s actually a term for this, and it’s called ‘mindless reading.’ Your eyes skim over the words and your brain notes them, but nothing is being understood or committed to memory.

Many students employ proven reading strategies to help them get through the inordinate amount of information that University flings their way. 

If you need a little help in this department, read on.

7 Reading Strategies for Effective Comprehension

The process of reading to understand is a complex one. We are required to understand what the words say, while at the same time linking them to other pieces of information and loading this information into our memory banks. 

An article discussing strategies for effective readers lists seven elements which were modelled for adolescent readers, but which remain true for anyone who wants to read mindfully. They are:

  1. Activating
  2. Inferring
  3. Monitoring/Clarifying
  4. Questioning
  5. Searching/Selecting
  6. Summarising
  7. Visualising/Organising

It’s well worth reading the full paper to grasp the full picture.

The two points which we find most interesting are activating and summarising.

Activating, as the starting point, is referred to as “priming the cognitive pump” in that we should spend a few minutes recalling what we already know about the topic. Perhaps we can make a few notes on broad ideas as well as interesting details. These serve as great steppingstones ferrying us into the new information we are about to take in, readying our minds to comprehend. 

Summarising is an excellent tool to master and can be used in all communication, from reading to speaking. Taking the information that we’ve just read and putting it into our own words helps to ensure that we grasp the full meaning, not only of the individual words but also of the entire concept.  

Indeed, reading and understanding complex new ideas is always going to be a challenge at University, but employing reading strategies which work for your learning style will benefit you both now and in the future.