is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Nearly every student has stared down hundreds of pages of reading in a week; these helpful techniques can make it more manageable.

Keeping up with college reading assignments can be overwhelming. Reading intensifies in college, placing more responsibility on students to manage their time efficiently. Working professionals, individuals returning to college, and those who struggle with reading often find it challenging to meet college reading requirements.

This guide is designed to help enrollees manage college reading assignments. We provide techniques for learners to budget their time, enhance comprehension, and locate resources to help with readings.

How Much Is Too Much Reading in College?

Most college classes require homework, reading, and other assignments outside of the classroom. The amount of reading varies by class, with textbook chapters, articles, and comparable materials assigned each week.

In 2017, undergraduate students reported spending just over 14 hours each week reading, although some disciplines have higher reading requirements, especially in upper-division coursework. English majors, for example, may have entire novels to read weekly, while engineering students spend more time reading articles and lab reports rather than long texts.

Students struggling to keep up with reading can contact their instructors to discuss reasonable solutions. Campus resources also help learners develop speed-reading and time management skills.

How To Read for College Classes

Students can employ several strategies to effectively and efficiently read for college classes. Each learner should identify the length of their assignment, determine the goal of the reading, and make sure they understand the instructor's expectations.

How thorough your reading needs to be depends on the material. A textbook may offer very general information that you can skim, while an article or primary source document can include very specific, niche content. Students should also consider their course load and specific due dates when deciding how to manage college reading assignments effectively.

Do You Read Everything in College?

College students vary significantly in their approaches to reading assignments. Some learners read every word and take meticulous notes, while others skim, jotting down notes. Some students never read anything for a course — they may not even buy the book.

Instructors often give reading quizzes and assignments to assess whether or not students have done the reading. Class discussions also serve as checks on learners: Individuals who do not speak in class can't effectively demonstrate their understanding, so the instructor might assume they didn't do the reading.

Finding the "right way" to read means identifying your learning style and adapting accordingly. Skipping an assignment may work against a student in both the short- and long-term. Not being able to participate in a discussion or failing a quiz can have ramifications for an entire course. However, while college reading assignments are crucial, not all readings require the same close attention. Think about the big picture, and make sure you're prioritizing your time appropriately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is College-Level Reading?

This term refers to the difficulty of reading assignments that postsecondary students must complete outside of the classroom. While difficulty varies by discipline and assignment, college-level reading usually includes increased technical terminology and more detailed information than reading found at the high-school level.

Should I Take Notes While Reading a Book?

Taking notes while reading a book is a great way to pull out main ideas and retain information. It also helps you find specific lines later. Students should take notes that refer back to other readings and can help them with future assignments.

How Can College Students Improve Reading Skills?

To improve reading skills, it helps to stay actively engaged with content, acknowledge your strengths and limitations, and find the methods that best work for you as an individual. Taking notes, asking questions, and having a clear understanding of expectations can all help improve reading skills.

How Can I Remember What I Read?

To retain information from your reading assignments, you need to engage with the text, maintain focus, and summarize the contents through notes and verbal discussions. Some students need to read something more than once to remember it effectively; if this is you, be sure to budget time for a second read-through.

Header Image Credit: FatCamera | Getty Images

Learn more, do more.

More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office