When Reading Is Difficult

Sometimes ordinary methods are not enough. You can use the following techniques when a textbook is unclear.

  1. Read it again. This is not always a waste of time, especially with highly technical writing. If you read an assignment and are completely lost, do not despair. Admit your confusion. After reading, leave it alone. Sleep on it. Your mind will work on those concepts while you rest. When you return to the assignment, regard it with fresh eyes.

  2. Hold a mini-review. Stop at the end of each paragraph and recite, in your own words, what you have read, or write a short summary in the margin of your text.

  3. Use your instructor. Admit when you are absolutely stuck and make an appointment with your instructor. Be specific about your confusion. Point out the paragraph that you found toughest to understand.

  4. Use an alternate text. Find one in the library. Sometimes the same concept can be understood better if you find it expressed another way.

  5. Pretend you understand, and then explain it. We often understand more than we think we do. To get in touch with this ability, pretend it's clear as a bell and explain it to yourself. Write your explanation and be amazed at what you do know!

  6. Stand up. Changing positions periodically can combat fatigue. Also, sometimes reading out loud so you hear the words makes them more understandable.

  7. Contact Support Services. A Support Services instructor may be able to give a new perspective to your problem.