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Get ready for college reading

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By GreatSchools Staff

What students can do

1. Make sure you digest and understand what you read.

The College Board recommends the SQ3R method, which stands for "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review." You can find information about this reading comprehension method on the College Board Web site.

2. Don't be afraid to reread what you've read.

"Understanding what you've read and knowing that you don't understand something you've read are important skills," notes Conley. He adds that it's important to realize when you don't understand something, and train yourself to go back and reread if necessary to gain the understanding. He says he is amazed at how many students don't do this.

3. Read your textbooks and course material thoroughly.

"I wish that I had tried reading some of my textbooks in high school instead of solely depending on my teachers for information," says Kimberly Wong, a recent UCLA graduate. "Sometimes in college, a lot of learning is placed on the responsibility of the students. Many times, students need to read their textbooks to learn all the material required of them since there is so little lecture and discussion time. Getting used to learning unfamiliar concepts from textbooks in college took me a while to get used to and I wish I had practiced doing that in high school."

4. Read independently. Read a variety of material.

Check this College Board list for some suggestions.

John Briggs believes it's important for students to "rediscover literature." He notes,"Students need to discover that there are books that our culture has kept as a legacy and these should not be forgotten. I think we are experiencing a 'period of forgetting.'" Many schools concentrate on exposing students to contemporary literature, which Briggs feels is a mistake. "It's like feeding fast food to someone who is starving," he says. "They deserve a nutritional diet."

Reading a variety of material helps you adjust your reading skills to different kinds of writing. For example, some writing is straightforward where another writer might have a keen sense of humor. Some writing can be read quickly while other writing requires thorough comprehension of detail. Reading a variety will also introduce you to terms that apply to certain subject areas. For example, if you are reading about music, you might learn terms like "tempo" or "cadence," and the relationship among words in a particular field.

5. Read challenging material.

Reading more difficult material will help prepare you for college admissions tests and reading college texts. Don't start out with material that is too difficult, however. For example, if you want to learn how a car engine works, start with a simplified manual with lots of pictures and work your way up to a more technical manual as your vocabulary and understanding grows.

Comments from readers

"I want to preper my daughter for college she want to be a DENTIST i want her to be ready for it in the nex 2 year "
"I have a question, too, actually. I want to know if a student from a country in Europe, such as Greece or Romania, can apply in 11th grade to a high school in the u.s. in order to have a better chance to be accepted at an university in the u.s. You know, to finish his/her last two years of high school here, knowing that he or she has been studying English at quite a high level. Is this possible? What do they have to do? Do they have the same chance as students who are already in u.s.? I have a friend who has this problem and I really have no idea what to advice her."
"Some school aren't preparing students for college. They don't care about our children. True, parents need to do their part at home with makiing sure they are reinforcing education at home, but what if parents don't know what to do? They didn't go to school to become a teacher. I appreciate any answers to my question. "
"I echo the comment from TN 9/11/06. I read this article specifically to see if speed reading was mentioned. I feel strongly that it should be taught in middle school or high school. Even though I was a strong reader, upon entering college, I was overwhelmed by the volume of reading required. I know I could have achieved much more had I been able to read faster."
"I believe this article (and others like it I have read elsewhere)leaves out a very important point about learning to read fast. Speed reading is a skill that can be most valuable at college when you have hundreds of pages to read to prepare for classes, tests, do research, etc. No one ever mentions it. No one mentioned it to me when I was preparing for college either. I sure could have used some speed reading skills in those days. Todays college bound kids need to know this. It should be emphasized, not ingored."
"Great article, how do we encourage our children to build study groups? I have not heard of any of my child's friends having study groups. "