Mastering effective reading habits for better learning

Reading is a fundamental skill that plays a crucial role in your academic journey and beyond. Whether it’s textbooks, research papers, or other materials, reading efficiently can significantly enhance your understanding and retention of information. In this blog, you’ll learn how to master some effective reading habits to help you read textbooks and other materials effectively, including skimming, scanning, and extracting key information.


Skimming is like taking a quick glance at the surface of a text to get a sense of its main ideas, structure, and overall content. It’s particularly useful when you’re trying to determine if a text is relevant to your study or research. Here’s how to skim effectively:

  • Start by reading the title, headings, and subheadings to grasp the main themes.
  • Pay attention to the introductory and concluding paragraphs for an overview.
  • Glance at any bolded or italicised text, bullet points, and diagrams to spot key concepts.


Scanning involves looking for specific pieces of information within a text. This technique is handy when you’re searching for particular details, quotes, or facts. Follow these steps to scan effectively:

  • Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for before you begin scanning.
  • Use keywords related to the information you’re seeking.
  • Quickly move your eyes across the page, focusing on the keywords or phrases.
  • Ignore irrelevant information and only stop when you find what you need.

Extracting key information

Extracting key information involves going deeper into the text to understand and retain the most important points. This technique helps you grasp the material’s core concepts and details. Here’s how to extract key information:

  • Read the text carefully and underline or highlight crucial points, terms, and definitions.
  • Take notes in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper to summarise key ideas.
  • Paraphrase complex sentences or sections to ensure you understand them fully.
  • Connect new information with what you already know to enhance comprehension.

Tips for success

  • Practice regularly: Just like any skill, reading efficiently requires practice. Start with shorter texts and gradually move on to longer ones.
  • Stay organised: Keep track of your reading materials and notes to avoid confusion and make reviewing easier.
  • Set goals: Break down your reading tasks into manageable chunks and set goals for each session.
  • Eliminate distractions: Find a quiet and comfortable place to read, minimising distractions for better focus.
  • Use technology: Utilise digital tools like e-readers or note-taking apps to highlight, annotate, and organise your readings.

Developing effective reading habits is a valuable skill that can significantly impact your learning journey. Skimming, scanning, and extracting key information are techniques that empower you to engage with complex materials more efficiently. Remember, it’s not about reading quickly, but about reading smartly. With consistent practice and dedication, you’ll enhance your comprehension, retention, and overall success in your studies and beyond.

Find more study techniques and tips on our website here.


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