Describe Your Reading Difficulty – Then Get Help to Solve It

College students sometimes struggle with reading the dense, complex texts assigned to them. Being able to name the difficulty is the first step in overcoming it. Read through this list of reading difficulties to identify which ones fit your situation. Then book a Reading Support appointment through UNE’s Student Academic Success Center to get help.


  1. I’m having a hard time seeing the structure of the writer’s argument. I can’t distinguish between claims and evidence, and analysis and interpretation. 
  2. I can’t tell the difference between when the writer is presenting someone else’s views or his or her own; I can’t tell whether the writer agrees or disagrees with someone else’s point.
  3. This writer presents both confirming and complicating evidence for his claims; I can’t figure out what his or her point is, or whether the argument is contradictory.
  4. These ideas are new and unfamiliar, so I’m kinda converting them into ideas I’m more familiar with, but I don’t think that’s really what the writer wants me to do.
  5. I can’t tell what question this writer is trying to answer, or why s/he or anyone would need or want to answer it.
  6. I feel like I’m just an undergrad, and this writer is clearly a pro, so how can I have anything to say about or back to him or her.
  7. I’m unfamiliar with or don’t understand the examples this writer uses because I’ve never seen or heard of them before, because they’re from before my time, or from a culture I’m not a member of.
  8. I don’t have the vocabulary to make sense of the sentences I’m reading; while the dictionary helps, I’m not understanding how the specific context alters the meanings of words I’m unfamiliar with.
  9. These sentences are freaking long and have a lot of parts!  I’m having a hard time tracking the syntax of the sentence. I can’t distinguish main clauses from subordinate clauses attached and embedded within them.
  10. I’m using reading habits that worked in high school, or another course in another subject where mostly my job is to store and retrieve information, but they don’t seem to be working here.
  11. I’m freaking out because I’ve never had to read anything this complex before.
  12. I think I should be able to read quickly and easily, and so I skip over difficult parts, don’t allot enough time to read, and read for the gist or main idea.
  13. I don’t take notes, mark up my reading, ask questions, or make comments in response to the reading.
  14. I haven’t adjusted my expectations and reading practices to account for the different kind of reading I am expected to do in college and/or the different kinds of texts I’m being asked to read in college.

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