“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison & Richard Steele

I am not going to tell you to use a popular strategy with a cool acronym like SQ3R. While I think SQ3R is a great system for reading, it’s too time consuming. You need to be an active reader, someone who interacts with the text, while maximizing your time. A major part of this is taking efficient notes while you read, which is essential to your success. You decide what note taking strategy works best for you (See p.). Mark your books, take notes, use stickies, etc. Active reading will make your later study sessions easier!

Active Readers

  • Preview chapter
  • Read headings and subheadings
  • Look at diagrams, pictures, captions, highlighted words, etc.
  • Set up their notes before reading and take quality notes while reading.
  • Identify and define unfamiliar terms
  • Have a goal while reading. For example, to answer a question, study for a test, research for project, etc.
  • Mark up text, write in margins, use a highlighter, underline key terms and phrases, etc.
  • Summarize text in your notes or out loud to someone else. Teaching something results in higher retention in your own brain.

Reading for a Test

Know how you’ll be assessed! You know your instructor. You know how they think. You know how they structure their assessments and what they expect of you. If you know the type of assessment you will be taking then, you can determine the information you need from your readings. You can’t memorize everything, but what you can do is figure out what you do need to know and read about that.

  • Multiple choice tests: learn facts and details while focusing on bold terms, definitions, and other specific details that stand out; Create notes that you can use to quiz yourself later.
  • Essays and written questions: focus on main idea and summarize your readings in your own words in your notes.
  • Reports and class presentations: Take notes according to the key points you are trying to prove. Write questions about the key points and answer them as you read.


What strategies do you currently use while reading that are helpful?

What action steps can you take to improve your reading process?

How does the way you read affect your future?

Melanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With over ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“




photo credit (top): mer chau