Reading can be a huge pain.

We’ve all heard at least once in our lifetime that high school is a far cry from college, but some things just stay the same. A very good example of this is the dreaded lengthy reading assignment. In order to survive these nuisances without much more than a little scratch on their overworked brains, high school students and college students alike should develop a little game plan of their own. For the sake of those poor souls, I’ve compiled a list of handy tips.

One class stands out as the poster child of lengthy reading assignments is English literature. This course is a must for all English majors and many humanities majors as a general education fulfillment. The name of the course itself is enough to strike terror into the hearts of the new kids in town and the seasoned locals. So how in the world would you conquer it?

1. Always start early

Don’t ever wait to study the night before any exam. There is no doubt your professor will ask you content-related as well as analytical questions, so you definitely need to know much more than your average SparkNotes overview.

2. Familiarize yourself with common literary terms

Your literature professor won’t require you to memorize by heart the whole bulk of literary terminology (hopefully), but being comfortable with the key concepts will be important to a favorable outcome in the class. If your professor does require you to know every single literary term ever to emerge from the brain of man, I have nothing more to say to you than, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” I mean it. Good luck.

3. Read the assigned text at least twice

Going over it once won’t cut it. You’ll definitely miss things the first time through, and you’ll catch them while rereading it. It’s like watching a pretty complicated movie for the second time. Don’t you always catch something new or different every time you decide to re-watch the film? The same concept applies to literature.

4. Summarize each chapter or section in a few concise bullet points after reading the full text for the second time

Don’t spend too much time on this. Try to winnow out the main event or action of each section. This will definitely provide for a much more efficient and timely review.

5. Nail down some of the important quotes

Professors love throwing out quotes on exams and I guarantee at least one exam will ask you to analyze a certain quote. Argumentative essays can also be strengthened with a strategic addition of quotes.

6. When you’re dealing with poetry, make sure you’re aware of the all symbolism going on

This can get rather tricky, so be on the lookout for repeated symbols, like color or food imagery.

7. Read the assigned passages aloud to your stuffed animals

I know, this seems super childish and dumb out of a mouth of a college student, but I promise it works wonders. You’re basically teaching a group of really quiet students, and we all know that teaching others really teaches yourself. It works for me every time and I guarantee it’ll work for you too.

Even if you might love literature or reading in general, the dry, long reading assignments your professor assigns you are bound to exhaust you sooner or later. I hope these tips, which can essentially be used for any type of class that requires reading, prevents you from screaming and ripping your precious hair out in clumps. So with that, happy reading!

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