How to Get Through Boring Reading Assignments

Many students would probably say that long readings are the most boring type of homework. If the material doesn’t interest you, it’s easy to begin skimming the words without actually absorbing their meaning, or worse, falling asleep. But don’t let these things happen to you! In college, professors often expect you to learn by reading rather than listening, so start getting used to it now.

Note: Don’t just read SparkNotes summaries

Although this may technically be the fastest way to get through boring reading assignments, it won’t help you out in the long run. The students that get the best grades are those that form their own ideas about the readings, not those that simply restate the most commonly held viewpoints. So actually read the words for yourself and decide what they mean to you as an individual. You’ll learn more, and your teachers will be able to tell that you’re trying harder.

Take notes

This is a pretty obvious strategy but it’s also the most effective. If you want to keep yourself engaged in the reading, turn it into a more interactive experience. Write all over the margins. Highlight. Underline. Make the text your own. All of this will be especially helpful if you need to refer to the reading later in class because you can skim over your comments in order to jog your memory.

Take frequent short breaks

One idea is to take a five-minute break every 30 minutes but feel free to personalize your schedule in the way that works best for you. You can keep the breaks frequent as long as you are intensely focusing and studying when you’re not on break. Let the breaks be like little rewards that motivate you to work harder.

Read aloud

If you’re feeling really tired, reading aloud can stop you from falling asleep. But try to actually absorb the words you’re saying. Don’t fall into the trap of mindlessly speaking the words without thinking about what they mean.

If it helps, you can even try using different accents. Or you can use different voices for different characters if you’re reading a novel. Do whatever gets you through, even if you feel silly.

Eliminate distractions

Sit in a quiet room with nothing else around you but your reading and some writing utensils to take notes. Maybe have a timer if you’re planning on taking breaks. When you’re doing something really boring, the temptation to check Facebook (or Instagram or Tumblr…) increases times a million, so it’s especially important to get rid of these distractions.

Gummy bear rewards


If all else fails, use your favorite candy as motivation. When you complete a paragraph, have a gummy bear!


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  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

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