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Study Skills 101 - South Bend-Elkhart: Reading Strategies

A libguide to help you learn more about how to study effectively


Skimming is a skill that you should use only in certain situations, such as:

  • Studying for a test
  • Clarifying notes
  • Writing a paper

When you start skimming, make sure to read the introduction, conclusion, and any summaries you might find.  Many times the authors will briefly discuss the key points that they want to make in those particular sections.  Also, be on the lookout for signal words.  These can alert you to other important information you can use.  Below is a chart showing you different types of signal words.

  • Examples - specifically, for example/instance, to illustrate, etc.
  • Cause & Effect - consequently, as a result, accordingly, hence, etc.
  • Enumeration - first, second, etc.
  • Contrast - on the other hand, however, despite, etc.
  • Comparison - likewise, similarly, identical, etc.


The Rule of 10

The rule of ten is a tool students use to help them remember and understand information that they are reading.  It means that for every 10 pages you read, take a small break.  Here are some things you could do on your breaks:

  • eat something healthy
  • try to put what you read into your own words
  • check your email
  • stretch out your muscles
  • move around
  • listen to one song

Taking these small breaks can help you to stay focused on the subject matter, give your brain time to process what your read, and keep you fresh so you can read more.

Reading for Comprehension

Reading for comprehension is a tool that students will use to prepare for lectures and class.  Reading and understanding the text and what the author is trying to convey to the readers is a large part of what reading for comprehension is.  Below are some ideas that you can use when you are having trouble understanding or staying awake while reading!

For the solo reader:

1. Read a portion of the text and then try to rephrase it in your own words

2. Connect it to a prior experience that illustrates the point

3. Come up with conclusions about the meaning


For reading groups or partners:

1. Have one student read the text, then summarize what the passage says

2. Have another student ask questions they may have about what you read

3. Talk about connecting what you read to previous experiences to illustrate the point

4. Reverse roles for the next passage.

Annotations and Marking

Many students like to make notes and marks in their textbooks while reading.  This is an excellent way to stay focused on and engaged with the material.  Here are a couple of tips to help you: Read the material first, and then go back and mark it, mark only main ideas and supporting details, use a consistent marking method (ex. highlight main ideas, underline supporting details)

Here is a list of annotation marks you can use:

  • Definitions - def.
  • Examples - ex.
  • Numbering - 1,2,3, etc.
  • Important Info - *
  • Confusing Material - ?
  • Possible Test Items - T
  • Summary Statements - sum.

10 Reading Tips

Here are some tips to help you read successfully!

1. Find a quiet place with no distractions

2. Empty your mind of all distractions

3. Pace yourself

4. Read first, then underline

5. Read the text like it is being spoken to you

5. Read all introductions, summaries and conclusions

7. Mark main ideas and key supporting points

8. Use a consistent marking method

9. Use annotation marks in the margin

10. Follow the Rule of 10