4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Textbook Readings
by Doris Hall
Posted: Oct 27, 2019
Posted: Oct 27, 2019
Assigned readings in your course textbook can certainly be daunting. While reading page after page, you may wonder how you will ever get through the assigned reading on time - all the while retaining all of the information! However, textbooks do not need to be so overwhelming. Here are some strategies to help you prepare good research paper topics and get the most out of your assigned readings.1. Pace yourselfIt is common for textbook readings to be assigned in bulk. Students are rarely asked to read one chapter at a time. Instead, they are usually instructed to read multiple chapters (or up to a hundred pages or more) each week, for every class. However, do not let this discourage you from completing the reading! To conquer the task, break larger assignments into smaller and more manageable sections. Instead of binging on five chapters at once, which creates an information overload that can negatively affect retention, try reading one chapter per day. You may even break your sections into a specific number of pages. If you have 100 pages to read in five days, consider reading 20 pages each day to distribute the work evenly.2. Take effective notesForget the highlighter. Instead, jot down important facts or analyses while you read. This way, you can avoid having to re-read the entire chapter just to find one piece of information. Research shows that students who take notes tend to retain more knowledge - and those who take notes by hand often retain even more. Writing down facts, theories, dates, data, and other important pieces of information helps students remember what they read or even what they picked up in class. Even if you are not a great note-taker, you can improve with practice. Maintain organized notes, reference what chapter or page the note comes from, write legibly, and summarize your understanding rather than simply copying the text verbatim. Most importantly, review your notes regularly. If you need additional help, check with your academic adviser to discover what resources your college offers to help students improve their note-taking skills.3. Schedule your time wiselyBe realistic with not only the amount of time you designate to complete the assigned reading, but also with the time of day you schedule yourself to read. Are you a night owl or an early bird? In what time of the day do you do your best work? Schedule your study time when you are most alert. If you are falling asleep or are distracted, your scheduled study time will not be valuable. You are much more likely to understand and recall important information if you read your textbooks when you are fully motivated and attentive. While you read, take breaks periodically to reflect on and update your notes. This will give you the opportunity to ensure you are absorbing the material.4. Keep a dictionary nearbyWhile you read, you are bound to encounter unknown words. If you do not know what a word means, it can affect your understanding of the entire text. Instead of skipping over a sentence and risking your comprehension, take a few minutes to look up the word in the glossary or in a dictionary. In addition to providing clarification, you will have the bonus of adding to your growing vocabulary. Reading textbooks consumes a lot of time, but assigned reading is required to be successful in your courses. Make the most of that time by applying these tips in order to increase understanding and retention of the material.
Doris Hall is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in educational, health, safety and domestic issues.