To know how to read seems simple enough; I can still remember learning the letters of the alphabet in kindergarten. However, in third grade we had what was called a victory drill book, which I hated with a passion. This book was supposed to teach us to work on our pronunciation of words. Each page contained four to five columns of words such as bat, cat, nap and map (words got longer with each page). We had two chances to improve our time at reading as many words as we could in a minute. I would get so frustrated as my teacher, Mrs. Curtis, would glance at the stopwatch every time I mispronounced a word. I can laugh now at what I thought was the end of the world, but the necessity to read quickly still haunts me.

It is the fourth week of school and I have already fallen behind in my reading.

It’s so easy. I remember my second semester at community college when I took a U.S. history class and even though I loved the subject, would find myself book in hand when I woke up the next morning with a quarter of the chapter read.

This course required me to read at least two hours a night. For some reason I had trouble with this. Go figure.

Since I’m a journalism major, one would think I could breeze through a reading assignment with as much as I read on a daily basis. I can’t.

The funny thing about reading assignments is that professors know students don’t read all the material. Then why assign 40 to 50 pages of reading a night? We feel stupid and unprepared and you professors treat us like we are in kindergarten, feeding us the basics from the chalkboard.

At the same time students resent the fact that the professors outline chapters during class time. Why read the text if we have to sit through class while you go over each point mentioned? This seems to be a vicious cycle; students don’t read the expensive books professors require because there is not enough time and students have become accustomed to being hand-fed the information.

In fact, if there were a course at Cal Poly that taught me how to read more efficiently, I would sign up.

It’s funny because reading is such a key part of our lives, yet we get tired of it so quickly and the only way to get better is to do what we dislike.

Since no course offers reading strategies, I decided to turn to the Internet to get some pointers for the next time I have to read three chapters in one night.

The No. 1 tip is not to read in bed because for that one second you become weak and rest your eyes, there is no going back. One Web site offers a very key point: Ask yourself, why did the professor assign the reading? Sometimes it may seem like busy work, but there’s a purpose. What are you supposed to get out of it? OK, the next step creates some work, but it helps to jot down notes and comments about the section because you know the next day you can’t remember what you read. Another great tip is to skim sections of the text, because once you know what the point of the reading is, and then it’s easy to bypass all the fluff and get to the facts.

In other words, I hate to admit it, but maybe the victory drill book offers the best advice, to keep at it on a routine basis and it becomes as easy as cat, bat, nap and map.


I hate to say it, but the victory drill book offers the best advice, make reading part of your routine and it becomes less overwhelming taking it word by word, page by page until it’s the chapters end before you know it.

Nicole Small is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily staff writer.

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