Academic Tutor: The Value of Mindful Reading

Posted by College Corner on 1/28/13 9:33 AM

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When reading any kind of assigned text – be it a nineteenth-century English novel, an American history book, a collection of letters, or anything at all that’s been deemed required reading for class – one of the biggest temptations that all my tutorial students in New York City face is to skim. 

Most students think that if they’re just not that interested, or if the reading is only relevant for a few days or weeks, they have nothing to gain from paying it careful attention.  Of course, sometimes you just don’t have the time, but there are actually a whole list of reasons that taking careful mental notes on all those random readings can pay off big time in the future, whether it’s on the SAT or GRE analytical writing sections, or just for your general education!


This is probably the most straightforward benefit to collecting an arsenal of facts and details from the history and literature texts that you read everyday.  As an experienced SAT and writing tutor in New York, I tell all my students that those little character details from A Tale of Two Cities or the historical insights they picked up from a semester of reading about international politics make for the perfect body paragraphs in essays for standardized test writing sections.  The key on these tests is simply to write as much as you can, coherently and to the point, and usually the knowledge that you bring to the table from your high school or college studies fits the bill exactly.


Every time I turn around, a new study pops up on the internet that shows the links between increased amount of time reading and increased attention spans.  Of course, everyone’s been in a rush before to finish that last-minute reading for class, but when you have the time, you should really slow down on your history, English, and even extra-curricular reading.  Attention to text is the kind of thing that only improves with practice, and what better practice than the readings you need to complete anyway!


I know I tell this to every one of my high school and college tutorial students in New York, but it can’t be repeated enough – all this careful reading does wonders for your vocabulary, and that not only helps on the GRE and SAT verbal sections but also can just improve your quality of life.  No matter what I’m reading, I do it slowly and return to every single word I couldn’t provide a perfect definition for.  This method may seem tedious, but it’s perfect for building a solid vocabulary to stand up against any standardized test that will come your way.

Clearly the value of patient and mindful reading is incredible.  And with all of these tips in mind, you can practice your strong reading technique during all the times between academic tutoring sessions.  Take your time, and get twice as much from the material!


Tags: study skills, English