How to Read College Textbooks

Many people enjoy reading for pleasure but not so much when it comes to reading college textbooks. College textbooks can be tedious with so much detail that reading them becomes an overwhelming task. However, there are strategies any student can use to make navigating college textbooks more manageable and less tedious. The strategies listed below can help you get more out of your reading and make the process less boring.

  1. Preview: Before diving into your assigned reading, take time to preview each chapter. This process includes looking at the chapter outline, chapter review questions, and the key terms to get an idea of what the chapter is all about.
  2. Create Questions: The next strategy to use after previewing your chapter is to look at the headings and subheadings in the chapter and turn them into questions. For example, if the chapter in your history book has a heading that says “Origins of the Cold War,” you want to turn it into a question that says “what were the origins of the cold war?” The point of creating questions from your chapter headings and sub-headings is finding the answer to the questions becomes the purpose for reading, in other words, the question guides your reading.
  3. Take Notes: As you are reading, write down the answers to the questions you created from your headings and subheadings. This will help you with the retention of the information you are reading. Taking notes doesn’t have to be hard and it can be done in a number of methods, such as margin notes, highlighting in the book, or taking notes in a separate sheet of paper in an outline format with bullet points.
  4. Chunk Your Reading Assignments: One of the most overwhelming parts of reading a college textbook is chapters are very lengthy. A good strategy is to break down a lengthy assignment into small manageable chunks. You will be more likely to finish reading the assignment as opposed to trying to read a full chapter in one sitting.
  5. Summarize: After you are done reading your assignment, go back to your notes and write a quick summary of what you read. Look at your lecture notes and make connections to your reading notes. This strategy will also help you with comprehending and retaining the information.

To learn more strategies on how to read your college textbook, check out this article.

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