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As college students, we are often bogged down with long readings. And by long, I mean anything that’s longer than 12 pages. For humanities students, readings can get into the 50-100 page ranges. Regardless of how long readings can get or who has it worse, trying to finish them in time for class is the worst. More often than not, we opt to skip these readings or at the very least, skimming the introduction and conclusions to contribute something in class, even if just a small snippet of how you liked what was written. Struggling to finish and understanding the reading is a lot of pressure, so here are a few ways to make it manageable.

Pomodoro Study Method

I am a big fan of the Pomodoro study method. It’s when you study for a set amount of time and have a break in between study sessions. I tend to do well with the 25/5 split, giving me 25 minutes of working and then a five-minute break. For longer work splits, 50/10 is also very efficient. I totally recommend finding some “Study with Me” videos on youtube so you don’t have to set timers on your own! For those Harry Potter fans out there, there are a plethora of themed videos that place you in the various common rooms and even Snape’s classroom!

Using this method allows you to get breaks while doing a long reading and makes it seem to go by a lot faster! I’ve even found that once I’m on a roll, I’ll work through the breaks which is really nice. 

Text-to-Audio

Another way to get through a long reading is to listen to it! I have a hard time grasping words when I do readings so I find it super helpful to hear what I’m reading while I follow along. There are many add-ons, apps and extensions that you can use for this technique! I prefer browser add-ons because I don’t have to copy/paste the text into a separate page and can just highlight what I’m looking at and listen that way.

The only downfall to this method is that it only really works for digital readings and not for physical ones (duh) nor textbook scans or pictures. It’ll work for some scans, but not all of them, unfortunately. Really nice hack, but only good for digital readings. 

Paint Your Nails

Now, this one seems really weird but trust me, it works. When you paint your nails, what do you have to do? Sit and wait for them to dry! While you’re waiting, no better way to pass the time than by working on finishing a reading. It takes maybe 15-20 minutes to let your nails dry enough to not get messed up, so you’ll get a large chunk of the reading under your belt. This hack works even better if you’re doing multiple coats on your nails!

Readings are really difficult to get through, and the longer they are, the less interesting they can be. Giving yourself breaks in between reading sessions allows you to decompress and process the information you’re taking in, leading to better retention!

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.
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