How to Read for College

Caleb McDaniel

August 26, 2012

General Tips

Conversational Reading

A Book is Part of a Conversation ...

Your Goal as a Reader?

Speed Reading versus Smart Reading

Smart readers learn when to slow down and when to speed up by paying attention to signposts.


How to Skim

In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things that you do not understand right away. Pay attention to what you can understand and do not be stopped by what you cannot immediately grasp. Go right on reading past the point where you have difficulties in understanding, and you will soon come to things you do understand. Concentrate on these. Keep on in this way. Read the book through, undeterred and undismayed by the paragraphs, footnotes, comments, and references that escape you. If you let yourself get stalled, if you allow yourself to be tripped up by any one of these stumbling blocks, you are lost. In most cases, you will not be able to puzzle the thing out by sticking to it. You will have a much better chance of understanding it on a second reading, but that requires you to have read the book through at least once.

From Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren, How to Read a Book, 36-7.

The point of skimming and pre-reading is to formulate questions and hypotheses about what the author will say.

The Slow Read

As you read ...

The Post-Read

While reviewing your notes ...

Other tips?