Reading for Success

Reading efficiently is integral to your success as a Berea College student. Utilize the tips below to find what works best for you, so you can get the most out of your books, articles, and essays.

Consider your circumstances

Reading by the light of your phone because it’s 1am and your roommate is sleeping? Probably not the most effective way to tackle that textbook. Instead, try reading during the day. Daylight or a well-lit room promotes concentration.

Plan to read for a shorter period. 30-40 minutes is idea ideal for retention and comprehension.

Ask Questions

Ask yourself, what do I need to get out of this reading? Chances are, your professors aren’t looking for you to memorize an academic article word-for-word. Consider the purpose of the assignment and use that to guide your reading.

Read for understanding, not memorization

Look for key information that speaks to the purpose of the reading. Ask yourself, “Is this the point I’m looking for?” If you think you’ve found it, make a note of it.

Vary your speed as you read. Notice when you are reading background material that isn’t tied to your purpose and read more quickly. Slow down when you notice that you are coming to a section with keyinformation.

Look for key words signaling important information. Boldface words, bulleted points, and subheadings are all clues that the information they signify is key to understanding the overall text.



If you’re unsure of what you just read, try explaining it in your own words, either aloud or in writing. Articulating the concepts you’ve just read will help you better understand them yourself.

Get creative by using a mind map, a flow chart, or a diagram to help you understand (and explain!) what you just read. Having a supporting document in your own words will be useful for future class discussions, studying, and research.