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Academic Study Skills

This guide can assist you to increase your understanding of course material, improve your marks, and make learning a little less stressful. Here you will find strategies for time management, reading and note-taking, study skills, and test-taking.


As college students, you must be able to read, understand, analyze, and apply information from textbooks and articles while learning the course content. It is helpful to have a range of strategies in order to meet the increased demands of reading assignments in college courses. Learning some deliberate reading strategies will help to make this task easier. Take a look at these resources to get started building your college-level reading skills!  

Reading Strategies

Reading in college requires an active approach. So, just how can you be active while reading?

The word “active” here refers to mental activity, and to readers who purposely engage with reading material. Active readers select reading strategies that help them find key information and important supporting information. Active readers use questioning, re-writing, and note-taking strategies to help them absorb their texts.

Check out a few active reading strategies used by successful Red River College Polytechnic students:

1.   Divide larger reading sections into smaller segments.

2.   Find main ideas using the following techniques:

  • Use major and minor headings, which give the main topics and subtopics. Note how they are organized and relate to each other.
  • Note the paragraph structure. The first sentence often is the topic sentence. The rest of the paragraph gives supports for the main idea with facts, examples, details, and explanations.
  • Decide what the author wants you to know about the topic. Think about the main purpose of the section and how each section works together with the others.
  • Think up questions as you read. Some questions could be, “What is this paragraph about?” or “What do I need to remember about this part?”

3.   Take notes on important concepts, focusing on key words, and phrases. As much as possible, paraphrase the content – use your own words. This forces you to think through what you are trying to learn rather than simply repeating it.

4. Mark up your textbooks (if you own them) as you make notes for your reading assignments. Use some of the following strategies:

  • Write important facts, definitions and explanations in the margins.
  • Circle, highlight, or underline main ideas in the body of the text. Do this sparingly. No more than one-fifth of the page should be highlighted.
  • Draw lines from the text to the margins and rewrite the information in your own words to summarize it.