English for Academic Purposes
Prof. Bauer-Ramazani


Academic Skills
Reading Strategies


A few important considerations:

  1. Reading textbooks can be boring, hard, and dry.

  2. Undergraduate students need to read about 30 pages per night (= one chapter).  Necessary target reading speed: 250 wpm.

  3. Graduate students need to read about 50 pages per night.  Necessary target reading speed: 300+ wpm


·        Decide how much of the information you need and adjust your reading speed accordingly:

a)      If the information will be tested later, use a CAREFUL READING technique (Use SQ3Rè Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review; use Vocabulary Strategies).

b)      If you only need to know whether this reading (article, chapter) is useful, use a SKIMMING technique (Read the introduction and conclusion).

c)      If you need to find particular information in this reading (article, chapter), use a SCANNING technique (Move your eyes quickly over the page, looking only for answers to questions—who, what, where, when, how, why; look for names, dates, locations, reasons.)


For academic reading (college/university classes), you should choose the CAREFUL READING Technique (SQ3R = survey, question, read, recite, review):


SQ3R-Reading Technique


  1. Survey the reading (chapter, article).  Reading and understanding will be easier if you know what you have a purpose for reading and know what you are reading about.
    • Look at and read all the headings and subheadings in the chapter.  Look for large titles, boldfaced print, titles in the same fonts and font sizes, words/titles in italics.
    • Look for and read the objectives.
    • Look for and read the study questions.
    • Look for and read the summary.


2.     Question as you read. 

·        Ask yourself, “Why am I reading this?  What questions should I be able to answer about this reading?” 

·        Remind yourself of the study questions.


3.     Read and mark.

·        Break the reading (chapter, article) into smaller segments, according to the headings/subheadings you identified in the survey. 

·        Read one section at a time. 

·        As you read, highlight (underline) thesis statements (one per section), topic sentences (main idea of each paragraph).  Highlight important (key) words or phrases.

·        Make outlines in the margin for a series of items: first (1), another … (2), third (3), etc.


4.     Recite.

·        Ask yourself the main idea of each section.  Formulate it in your own words in one sentence.

·        Write a brief summary in the margin (= annotating) or take notes on a separate sheet of paper.


5.     Review.

·        Reread your annotations for each section.

·        Try to answer the study questions.

·        Summarize the reading (article, chapter) into 4-5 sentences in your own words.

© 2005: Christine Bauer-Ramazani; last updated: December 06, 2017