Study Tips: How to Read a Textbook

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When was the last time you really read your textbook? Do you read the table of contents? Do you only open your textbook when there are assigned exercises in it? Or are you the type who read it from cover to cover?

If the above descriptions are similar to how you use your textbook then you’re in for a big surprise. Just to be clear: a textbook is not a novel that is to be read from cover to cover. It’s also not an exercise book (unless it’s explicitly stated in the title, that is). Also, though it’s a good habit to browse the table of contents, that isn’t enough to get the most out of textbook reading. What we need is a sure-fire way of maximizing textbook reading, one that helps out in ways to manage study time, and coincide with easy study tops that keep you focused. If you want to know how to really read a textbook, follow the following steps:

Step 1: Choose a chapter.

Of course, it’s suggested that you choose a chapter for advanced reading, but in this case, any chapter would do: the chapter you’re currently studying in class or the chapter your doing examination preparation for later.

Step 2: Answer the chapter exercises.

Yes, that’s accurate. Instead of doing the exercises last, you try to answer the chapter exercises given what you know and what you could figure out. The logic behind this tactic can be explained by one of engaging interest. Most people recall the actual content of a course if they are given time to form their own opinions or understanding first before checking if what they did was correct. The point of the exercise is not really the actual answers to the chapters (though they may help), but to engage your thinking about the subject matter.

Step 3: Read the outline for the chapter.

Chapters would most certainly have outlines or a chapter-specific table of contents at its beginning. Refer to this outline after you’ve answered and corrected the chapter exercises. At this point, try to figure out the logic behind the chapter structure. Ponder on the chapter sequence and the actual outline; try to remember which topic goes under another, or is next to it.

Step 4: Read the chapter summary.

Read the chapter summary after you’ve done your initial analysis of the above two sections of the chapter. The chapter summary usually has an integrative story, a list of terms and their definitions, and a walkthrough of the chapter content. We always think that the chapter summary is meant to recap all the things that were discussed in the chapter – and it does, mind you – but it could also be used to give us a more-than-useful glimpse of the chapter we will be studying.

Step 5: Read the chapter.

After reading the above sections, you’re finally ready to tackle the actual content. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to read the chapter because you have an advanced knowledge of what you’ll be tackling. Try to remember the chapter exercises and figure out why they were explicitly asked in the chapter. Recall the chapter outline while you’re reading, and connect the chapter content to the chapter summary that you’ve already read.

Step 6: Answer the chapter exercises again.

Go back to the exercises. Find it easy? Well, you already know why.

3 Responses to “Study Tips: How to Read a Textbook”

  1. […] the optimum way to define a personal learning space. This way, whether you’re still pondering how to read a textbook or just finding ways to maximize study, nothing beats an individualized learning […]

  2. […] Don’t be a lurker. Be an active participant in the forum. Just like the class discussions of a brick-and-mortar classroom, the forums are designed so that everyone could freely add their ideas with only a little moderation. Try to keep your point across in a manner that you’ll be quickly and clearly understood. At the very least, it’s an opportunity to exercise your communication skills and something useful to make out of reading your textbook. […]

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