Reading skills
You are expected to do much more reading at university than at school or college; it's not called ‘reading for a degree' for nothing.
Here are some tips to help you improve your reading:

1. Styles of reading
2. Active reading
3. A tip for speeding up your active reading

1. Styles of reading

There are three styles of reading which we use in different situations:

The technique you use when you're looking up a name in the phone book: you move your eye quickly over the page to find particular words or phrases that are relevant to the task you're doing:

a) It's useful to scan parts of texts to see if they're going to be useful to you.
b) The introduction or preface of a book.
c) The first or last paragraphs of chapter.
d) The concluding chapter of a book.

The technique you use when you're going through a newspaper or magazine: you read quickly to get the main points, and skip over the detail. It's useful to skim:

a) To preview a passage before you read it in detail.
b) To refresh your understand of a passage after you've read it in detail.
c) Use skimming when you're trying to decide if a book in the library or bookshop is right for you.

Detailed reading:
In this careful reading, you may find it helpful to skim first, to get a general idea, but then go back to read in detail. Use a dictionary to make sure you understand all the words used.

2. Active reading
When you're reading for your course, you need to make sure you're actively involved with the text. It's a waste of your time to just passively read, the way you'd read a thriller on holiday. Always make notes to keep up your concentration and understanding.

Here are some tips for active reading.

Underlining and highlighting
Pick out what you think are the most important parts of what you are reading. Do this with your own copy of texts or on photocopies, not with borrowed books.

If you are a visual learner, you'll find it helpful to use different colours to highlight different aspects of what you're reading.

Note key words
Record the main headings as you read. Use one or two keywords for each point. When you don't want to mark the text, keep a folder of notes you make while reading.

Before you start reading something like an article, a chapter or a whole book, prepare for your reading by noting down questions you want the material to answer. While you're reading, note down questions which the author raises.

Pause after you've read a section of text. Then:

a) Put what you've read into your own words
b) Skim through the text and check how accurate your summary is
c) Fill in any gaps

3. A tip for speeding up your active reading
You should learn a huge amount from your reading. If you read passively, without learning, you're wasting your time. So train your mind to learn.