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Keep up with your readings

By Ann Choi, 2nd-year Concurrent Education student, majoring in English literature

As we near the end of the semester, completing the readings may seem more difficult than ever. You might be tempted to go out with your friends to enjoy a walk by the beautiful Lake Ontario if the day is nice, or, if you are living in residence, your friends may visit your room and whisk you away into fun places, bidding adieu to your readings! It is also possible to read for hours on end, and realize you did not process any of the information in the book. Don’t despair, however: there are strategies that can help you find time to do the readings and also make most use of your time. Through using the strategies, you will find you can go to magical places with your readings 🙂

1. Talk to your Prof.

Sometimes the professor assigns you a very dull and dry text that seems overwhelming to read and irrelevant to the lecture materials. With five classes to manage and extracurricular and fun times to enjoy, doing all the readings may not be realistic. Talking to your professor then can be very helpful as he/she will direct you on how to do the readings. I have done this a few times, and most of the times they acknowledged that reading everything is not practical, and they offered advices such as finding segments of the text that correspond to their lectures. Every course is different, so don’t be afraid to ask!

2. Schedule in your time for readings.

Readings can often come second in importance to assignments and tests, and it can be easier to forget to do the readings. I like to make a To-Do List of all the readings that I need to do by the week, and schedule it into my agenda or weekly schedules – and check all the readings off at the end of the week! I mostly schedule my readings for the evenings when I am too tired to study for tests and assignments, as readings then seem to me like a nice and relaxing activity at the end of the day.

Now that you have found time to read, what if you can’t retain information?

Don’t worry, it is a common problem…

1. Practice Active Reading!

Having a goal, whenever you read, is HUGELY important. Active reading is all about having a goal: having a conversation with the text. Set specific time to read a certain passage, and make sure to pause couple of times throughout the passage and ask yourself: what was the main idea? Taking a smaller chunk is good, because it is harder to remember what you read when you try to summarize the entire chapter. And…

2. Make sure to TAKE NOTES in your own words.

You can decide when to pause and take notes of important points, but I like to do it by paragraph, and if the paragraph is too short, I also look for subheadings in the text to organize my ideas. Taking notes may seem time-consuming at first, but believe me, in the long run it saves you a lot of time as you would be able to refer to your notes when you study for the test. In the long run, strategic and purposeful reading also ensures that you are making the most use of your time.

And… Have fun with your readings too! Some readings can be very engaging, and even with the dry ones, ask yourself: what am I reading for? After completing this reading, you may have gained valuable knowledge or you may be closer to your goal of completing the course. Remind yourself of your goals, and you will enjoy your readings more. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of rosmary under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.