How to Study from a Textbook
When you're a student, textbooks are a fact of life. To get good grades, you will need to know the best ways to study your textbooks and help yourself learn the information. Although the studying process can seem tedious and challenging at times, there are different methods you can use that can help you get the most out of your textbooks.
Schedule Reading Time
Your instructors will often give you reading assignments to go along with the coursework, and you'll need to complete the required reading on schedule to be able to keep up with what's discussed and assigned during class time. A good rule of thumb is to allow five minutes for each page of reading, so if you have ten pages to read for your economics class, you'll need to block out almost an hour to complete this assignment. Try scheduling your reading time in chunks throughout the day to fit it in around your other obligations and make sure you get it all done.
Previewing the Textbook
Before you begin actively reading your textbook, take some time to familiarize yourself with it. Look over the table of contents in the front and the index and glossary at the back to get a feel for what you will be learning. Glance at the charts and diagrams. If the textbook has a preface or introduction, read this in full. You might also want to read through any chapter summaries provided.
Active reading involves not only reading the text but highlighting and/or taking notes. The process of highlighting or taking notes forces your brain to process the information at a higher level. If you can't mark up your textbook, keep a list of important keywords and phrases as you're reading. Break up an assignment into several-page portions, and then break up each page into paragraphs to read one at a time. After reading each paragraph, go back and pick out the most important keywords or phrases and highlight them or jot them down. Write down a few notes, either in the margins of the textbook or on sticky notes, to help you recall the important details of what you just read. If you are uncertain about any information, make a list of questions to ask during class.
Reviewing After Reading
After you finish a reading assignment, review what you have read in your mind. Think about the information and specific details, making sure that you understand what you've read. You might even want to write a short summary of the material in your own words to help you process and remember it better. Look over what you've highlighted and noted to make sure that these key concepts are clear in your mind. You could also make a quiz for yourself that includes these important points, then use the quiz later on to make sure that you remember the information. Taking the time to review and recall the information will help you keep it in your mind.