Skip to this page's content

Reading Strategies

Making Sense of What You Read

Are you having trouble…?

  • understanding what you read
  • remembering what you read

Try these strategies.

  1. Read for a purpose. For example:
    • to enjoy a story
    • to find information
    • to learn something new
  2. Understand the author's purpose. He or she may be writing…
    • to inform you
    • to share research findings
    • to argue something
  3. Read with a goal. For example:
    • to understand the main ideas
    • to understand concepts and theories
    • to interpret findings, draw conclusions, consider implications
  4. Read with your mind. For example:
    • ask questions before you start to read and try to find the answers
    • summarize the main ideas
    • relate the main ideas to other ideas you already understand
  5. Focus on the structure. You can learn a lot about a text when you…
    • use the title to predict what the text is about
    • skim the introduction, preface, table of contents, back cover of a book
    • read the abstract or the first and last paragraphs of an article
    • look at chapter titles of a book or subheadings of an article
  6. To remember what you read DO something. For example:
    • restate what the author says in your own words (paraphrase)
    • explain in more detail the author's thesis
    • examine the logic of the text: author's purpose; author's assumptions, point of view, or bias; key information; main concepts; author's conclusions; implications

Adapted from Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2003-2004). Critical thinking: The art of close reading (Parts I — IV). Journal of Developmental Education.