How to Read Textbooks
Reading a textbook is not like reading a novel. A whole different kind of reading has to be employed to really understand the material. To study your books effectively and be ready for your class exams, try the following suggestions.
– Don’t just read it; re-read it. You’ll find that the material often gets easier to understand the second time around. Many people complain that they get confused by textbooks when they read it the first time. Don’t stress out if you don’t think you’ve grasped it all that first time. Just take a short rest and then go back to read it again. And if you still don’t get it, read it a third time.
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– Take several breaks for mini-reviews. Rather than reading the whole chapter all at once, break it up into logical parts, then break to summarize what you’ve just read. See our post on How Long Should I study for?
– As you read, keep your eyes open for essential words. Mentally try to skip over the excess adjectives and adverbs. Concentrate on the essential words that give the paragraph its basic meaning. These are normally the simple nouns and verbs.
– Ask for input from your instructor. Even in large lecture classes, professors and teachers normally welcome their students to talk with them. So admit to your instructor your problem and ask for his or her assistance with the part that’s confusing you.
– Read it out loud. Yeah, I know that you’re elementary school teachers told you to learn to read silently, but when you’re studying difficult textbooks, reading out loud helps you to think about the material. And as you read it, each time use a different inflection emphasizing a different part of each sentence and paragraph.
– Don’t be afraid to change your position as you’re reading. This helps your body to fight fatigue and to keep your mind refreshed.
– If you feel overwhelmed by your course material, hire a tutor. Many schools keep a list of tutors. Speak with the office to find someone who is skilled with the material that’s giving you problems. Or purchase one of the commercial study guides available. More on how to hire a tutor
These are just a few suggestions that should help you master those textbooks that otherwise might keep you from getting the “A” in your classes. Even practicing just a few of these suggestions could dramatically improve your results in your class. What’s more, they’ll help you with reading other difficult material throughout the rest of your life.