How to Work Through Difficult Reading Assignments: Ideas from MODG Students

PC: Joel Muniz. Free to use under the Unsplash license.

Being in Mother of Divine Grace my whole life, and now a senior in the school, I’ve been through my fair share of difficult reading assignments. I was always looking for new ideas to work through my readings, so I always appreciated ideas I received from my classmates. I have compiled a list of all the different ideas that have helped my classmates and me work through our difficult reading assignments, so as to provide students with some ideas to work through their own difficult assignments.

First tip: Timing yourself

Sometimes all you need to just get through a chapter or two of a difficult book is just setting aside an allotted time, such as one hour, to only read. Ruth B, a MODG senior, says that, “Timing yourself is a good way to stay focused/motivated.” I completely agree with Ruth , as I find that when I set aside time to do nothing but reading, I am able to focus more on the reading, which in turn, helps me to get through the assignment more efficiently. Find an amount of time that you’re able to spend reading efficiently within your attention span, and set a timer! For me, I’ve found that two to four 45-minute time sections a day is a perfect balance.

Second tip: Looking for short summaries, such as videos or even short books.

This second tip comes from Dominic V, also a MODG senior, and is something that I always use whenever I have a difficult reading assignment. If I find short summaries before I start the assignment, while reading the assignment I can visualize what’s going on a lot better. Even if I find a short summary after I’ve completed my difficult reading, I am still able to visualize better “what the Richard the Third even just happened” in my reading.

Third tip: Highlighting, circling, and outlining.

Highlighting important words, sentences, or paragraphs is an extremely useful tip, and something that MODG students love to do (ask anyone about what type of highlighter they use and they’ll be super protective of their favorites). Circling with a pencil is a less permanent option for those not wanting to upset their parents, who say my siblings still have to use the book, oops… Writing an outline of what you read on a separate piece of paper, something that altogether avoids the possible dangers of writing in your book, is also a great way to help remember and conceptualize material in your reading. It is also vitally important to remember writing down page numbers; all that time you spent outlining will go nowhere if you lose what page you found the information on!

Fourth tip: Hearing the reading aloud.

Whether through reading out loud, or listening to audio books, hearing a book out loud can be the difference for some, between being able to understand the reading and mindlessly highlighting a page (and having your parents get upset at you, but hey at least the page looks pretty from your favorite highlighter). Ellie G, you guessed it – a MODG senior, says that reading aloud “…will always be an effective method for comprehension and retention because you are using another sense.” Joseph S. also recommends having someone read a book out loud, which can be a great idea if, for example, you cannot find an audio book.

I hope this article was able to aid or inspire anyone going through difficult times. Reading assignments are a very serious issue in the world today, and we can use all the help we can get – supporting each other in these dire times is essential to our survival.