6 Reasons to Read Before Class

Read ahead of class to get the most out of class
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Everyone's college and grad school experience is a little different, but the one thing all have in common is reading. You already know that college entails a lot of reading. Guess what? Grad school is way worse. Expect your reading load to triple, at least, in graduate school. With such a huge set of reading assignments, you might be tempted to fall behind and not read before class. Here are six reasons why you should avoid temptation and read ahead of the class.

Make the Most of the Class Time

Class time is valuable. Be sure that you can follow along. When you read ahead of time, you are more likely to understand the organization of the lecture. You'll be better able to figure out what's important and what isn't (and thereby take effective notes).

Understand the Topic and What You Don't Understand

If everything that you hear in class is new, how will you determine what you understand and whether you have questions? If you have read beforehand you can focus your attention on filling gaps in your understanding by paying more attention during some parts of the lecture and by asking questions.


Most classes require at least some participation. Be ready to answer questions and to discuss the topic. It's easy to participate when you know the topic. Reading beforehand helps you to understand the material and gives you time to consider your perspective and opinions. Don't get caught unprepared. Professor's opinions matter - do not get caught faking it.

Show Off

Reading before class lets you show that you've read, that you care, and that you are intelligent. You'll be able to ask good questions and participate in a way that demonstrates preparation, interest, and mastery of the material. These are all positive marks in profs' views.

Participate in Group Work

Many classes require group work, often in class. If you have read, you are ready and likely will not mooch off of your classmates, or benefit from their hard work. In turn, if you have read you can tell when the group is taking a wrong turn. Contrary to some stereotypes, effective group work requires preparation.

Show Respect

Reading ahead of time shows respect for the instructor and interest in the class. While instructors' feelings should not be the primary motivator of your behavior, relationships with faculty are important and this is one easy way to get your relationship with your professor off to a good start. Think ahead—faculty are often important resources for advice, recommendation letters, and opportunities.

Many students find reading tiresome, a great deal of work. Try employing reading strategies such as the SQ3R method.

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Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "6 Reasons to Read Before Class." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/reasons-to-read-before-class-1686430. Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. (2020, August 26). 6 Reasons to Read Before Class. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/reasons-to-read-before-class-1686430 Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "6 Reasons to Read Before Class." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/reasons-to-read-before-class-1686430 (accessed March 22, 2023).