An effective reading plan is critical for students at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Scanning is a 10-second-per-page preview of reading material. The more familiar you become with the material, the more quickly and easily you can understand it. Look at headings, subheadings and objectives to understand how material is organized.

Familiarize yourself with new vocabulary. Look at the first paragraph, which will introduce you to the material, as well as the last paragraph, which will summarize the section.

There are certain things you must do to prepare yourself for reading.

  1. Set aside time. This means you organize your day so there is a period when your main purpose is to read.
  2. Focus your attention: When you begin to read, your purpose must be on reading.
  3. Eliminate distractions: You need to be in a place where no one and nothing will disturb you. Turn off your phone, place a "do not disturb" sign on your door, shut the computer off.
  4. Position yourself correctly: It is important to be sitting in a comfortable place. Do not lay on the bed or lean sideways on the floor. These can make you feel fatigued or strain your shoulders and back.

Start by knowing your objectives. Being selective about what you want from your reading increases your reading efficiency. As you ask questions about what you need to learn from the material and what you will do with the information later on, you influence your perception of the input of the words passing from your eye to your brain. Don't be afraid to skip around and read only what pertains to your objectives.

When using your hand while reading, you promote what is called full-dimensional reading. As you underline, your eyes are forced to move along the line of print. Eyes follow moving objects: Your hand in motion down the page attracts the eyes to follow. This also provides a focal point, which aids concentration.

Read and try to understand before taking notes or highlighting information. Try to translate the main points into your own words. Focus on key terms and concepts rather than large chucks of information. Write one sentence for each paragraph read.

After you read, do something active with your reading material.

  • Mental - summarize the main point to yourself in your mind.
  • Verbal - summarize the main points by telling someone or saying it out loud to yourself.
  • Written - write notes about what you have read. Look for connections to lectures.