STEM Reading Skills & Summary of Reading Strategies

Reading Strategies for Math & Science Based Courses

  • Your textbook is a resource and not a burden
  • Science and math textbooks have different reading approaches
  • Math and science or both may be required for your major or profession.
  • Reading and studying math, science, engineering and technology require different skills from other disciplines .
  • Practicing the reading skills that follow improves comprehension, mastery, and amount of study time.
  • Taking notes about, in, and on the reading material is time well spent

Mathematics and science are required for an ever growing number of majors and occupations. In fact, most college majors require not only college algebra but also higher level math such as calculus..

Math and science are “doing” subjects, not “reading” subjects like some of the humanities and social sciences. The chart below is a simple example of the complexities you will find in your math and science readings.

Mathematically-based subjects require a progressive step-by-step learning of fundamentals called scaffolding that allows you to build each new skill upon a prior skill or concept already mastered. This progression of learning demands subject mastery and comprehension not memorization.

It is a certainty that math or science – or both – will be a part of your undergraduate program. Therefore, you need to start practicing the strategies in this section if you want to find success in your math and science courses and get more out of your reading and studying time.

Summary of Reading Strategies

  1. eading strategies take practice. In the beginning employing these strategies may seem to extend your reading time, but you will make it up when it comes to test preparation and concept mastery.
  2. Math and Science textbooks use different strategies.
  3. Taking shortcuts with your reading will negatively impact your education.
  4. STEM professions do even more reading than STEM students to keep up with the research in their fields. Learn how to read STEM materials now.
  5. Studying more or longer doesn’t mean studying well. Take advantage of the strategies in this and other modules to improve your learning and give you more time to enjoy college.
  6. Use all the resources available to you when something is confusing including re-reading the text, any graphs, charts, or tables, the publisher’s web site for the textbook, study partners, your study group, a tutor, the TA for your class, and obviously, the instructor (that’s part of why they offer office hours).
  7. Always complete your assigned readings before each class.
  8. Learn to manage your time effectively (see module on Time Management). If you can’t complete your readings on time before class, you might need some Time Management skills.

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