student researching tips for tackling lengthy readings

Tips for Tackling Lengthy Readings

We all need to be able to read well. Whether it’s a press release, presentation to a client, syllabus, proposal for a freelance opportunity, art history textbook, an email, or any kind of reading material, being able to consume it efficiently and intelligently is a learned skill. Although there is no one size fits all solution that will apply to every student, we’ve compiled some tips for tackling lengthy readings that should help when it comes time for you to tackle a lengthy reading project during your college experience. 

Know what you need to read and why. 
Ensure you look ahead in your syllabus or LMS modules and know what your reading assignments are each week. Before you begin, ask yourself what the purpose of the text is, is it relevant, and what are you reading for? Your answers will help you make better use of your time. 

Give yourself appropriate time to read.
Create a schedule for yourself and read at your own pace. If you miss information because you rushed through the reading, you’ll end up having to read it again. 

If you have more than one reading due within the same week, pick the one that is the most relevant to any assignments and/or that week’s learning outcomes. 

Organize your reading.
Looking at a lengthy reading all at once can be intimidating. Breaking the reading you’re faced with into manageable sections will help you digest it more easily. This can be done one page at a time, or even a paragraph at a time. If the reading is digital, you can crop the PDF or use the viewfinder to hide the rest of the text to help assist. 

Read actively.
While reading, make sure to annotate in the margins or on a separate piece of paper. Highlight important words and sentences, and summarize what you’re reading. Pay attention to diagrams, illustrations, graphs, and identify key information. Written language can seem daunting, reading out loud to yourself can create a reading pace that may help you understand things more clearly. Look for specific keywords in the passages that may help you consume the information.

Try using text-to-speech software.
Having someone else read to you can provide a new perspective for comprehending readings. RMCAD provides its students with access to NaturalReader, which can read PDF’s out loud to you. RMCAD Students can contact the Student Learning Center for free access to this software. 

Try implementing these tips for tackling lengthy readings, and you should find yourself being more efficient with your time. The Student Learning Center is a fantastic resource available to all RMCAD students, free of charge. They offer peer tutoring, academic mentoring on a variety of topics, including reading methods. Students can schedule an appointment here or email

This piece was written with the help of Ryan Hruska from the SLC. The SLC welcomes students from all programs both on-campus and online who strive to do better in the classroom while perfecting their craft.


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