One of the most intimidating thoughts about going to college as a dyslexic is the sheer amount of reading required. It is thought that students will need to be able to read and comprehend as many as 200 pages per week while carrying a full course load of classes. This post will attempt to show you how to prepare for college level reading in advance by knowing what is expected and working towards that end.

college level reading

I know that even as a traditional learner, without dyslexia, I could have avoided a lot of difficulty in my own college experience if I had known what expect with regards to college reading and had learned and practiced some skills for meeting those demands.

What You Need to Know About College Level Reading

Most college reading is nonfiction. To comprehend nonfiction texts, competant note taking and highlighting skills are required.  Please note that with a dyslexia diagnosis, students with dyslexia can likely be assigned a note taker, relieving them of this task.  However, since one cannot always have a notetaker in life, some attention should be given to practicing this skill.

Ways to Practice Note Taking Skills

Practice identifying main ideas and details while identifying important themes.

Practice marking text books. Skills to practice are underlining, high lighting, writing notes, questions and connections in the margins.

Read this post on Teaching Students Note Taking Skills.

Pre-reading Strategies

Getting organized before reading is an excellent skill to teach the dyslexic learner.

Preview the reading selection (ie. chapter) to know what the chapter is about. Take some time to discuss this and formulate questions such as:

  • What do I already know about this subject?
  • What do I want to learn about this subject?

For each assignment, students need to know WHY they are reading it and develop an appropriate plan. Is it for a test, a project, a class discussion, a paper, etc? That way they will know if they need to merely skim the material, summarize, analyze or write about it. Each of these requires a different level of reading.

Practice Reading Skills

The SQ3R Method: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review

Before you read, Survey the chapter:

  • the title, headings, and subheadings
  • captions under pictures, charts, graphs or maps
  • review questions or teacher-made study guides
  • introductory and concluding paragraphs

Question while you are surveying:

  • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions
  • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading
  • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading
  • Ask yourself, “What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?”
  • Ask yourself, “What do I already know about this subject?”

When you begin to Read:

    • Look for answers to the questions you first raised
    • Answer questions at the beginning or end of chapters or study guides
    • Reread captions under pictures, graphs, etc.
    • Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases
    • Study graphic aids
    • Slow down for difficult passages
    • Stop and reread parts that are not clear
    • Read only a section at a time and recite after each section

Recite after you’ve read a section:

  • Orally ask yourself questions about what you have just read, or summarize, in your own words, what you read
  • Take notes from the text but write the information in your own words
  • Underline or highlight important points you’ve just read

Reciting:

  • The more senses you use the more likely you are to remember what you read.
  • Seeing, saying, hearing, writing.

Review (Study Skills):

Day One

  • After you have read and recited the entire chapter, write questions in the margins for those points you have highlighted or underlined.
  • If you took notes while reciting, write questions for the notes you have taken in the left hand margins of your notebook.

Day Two

  • Page through the text and/or your notebook to re-acquaint yourself with the important points.
  • Cover the right hand column of your text/note-book and orally ask yourself the questions in the left hand margins.
  • Orally recite or write the answers from memory.
  • Develop mnemonic devices for material which need to be memorized.
  • Make flash cards for those questions which give you difficulty.

Days Three, Four and Five

  • Alternate between your flash cards and notes and test yourself (orally or in writing) on the questions you formulated.
  • Make additional flash cards if necessary.

Weekend

  • Using the text and notebook, make a Table of Contents – list all the topics and sub-topics you need to know from the chapter.
  • Recite the information orally and in your own words.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Students need to understand what their reading strengths and weaknesses are before they head out to college. They should develop a system of supports that they need, know and trust, such as:

  • audio books – many textbooks can be found in audio versions at LearningAlly.org
  • utilizing study partners
  • multi-sensory study techniques
  • budgeting (more than) enough time to read into their schedules
  • be able to write about and discuss reading material
  • be able to ask questions about difficult concepts
  • determine other resources that are available (perhpas from the school itself)

Take some time each week to work on these skills. Practice highlighting, note-taking, and summarizing the text. Mastering even some of these skills before college begins will help ease the transition to higher level learning, building confidence and grades!

Are you preparing a child for college? I hope you will join me next week for my 10-day series on Preparing Your Dyslexic Student for College Success.