Skip to Main Content

Student Support Services

Essential Study Skills

Reading With Purpose

College textbooks can cover a lot of complicated or highly technical information. Simply reading through your texts will not be enough for you to retain the information. This module will explain reading strategies to help you understand the information needed to be successful in your classes.


  • Highlight.As you read, highlight important information, so that you can find it again later. Don’t highlight too much, you want the important points to stand out.
  • Write in the margins.Annotate your text with comments, questions, examples, and more.
  • Read out loud.Rather than reading silently in your head, read your material out loud, either to someone else, or to an invisible audience.
  • Explain what you’ve read to someone else.Relaying information to other people helps you understand it better. It can also help you notice information that you haven’t quite grasped.
  • Test yourself.After you’ve read a chapter, try to write down the key points without checking the text.

How to Use Active Reading Techniques

Watch this video to learn about active reading techniques that can help you learn material.

SQ4R Reading Technique

SQ4R is a technique for active reading. Watch the video or follow the steps below to learn how to use this technique with your assigned readings.

SQ4R Six Steps

  1. SURVEY: Flip through the chapter quickly to get a sense of what is covered. Look at headings and keys terms, and read the final paragraph.
  2. QUESTION: Turn headings into questions to guide your reading. You can keep track of your questions by using the Cornell Method of note-taking. You can use the one of our templates:
  3. READ: Read the chapter, looking for the answer to the questions you posed.
  4. REFLECT: Think about what you have read, and relate it to other information you have learned.
  5. RECITE: Without looking at the text, restate your question and formulate an answer in your own words.
  6. REVIEW: At the end of the chapter look over your notes and familiarize yourself with key points.