How to Read a College Textbook Chapter

Do you sit down with your textbook, determined to read and study for an hour or two, and soon realize you’re not retaining anything you’ve read? You’re not alone. For many students, textbook reading is tedious and boring. Here are some hints to help you get that information into your brain:

1. Study the same subject, in the same place, at the same time every day. Your brain will soon get accustomed to receiving information in that familiar setting.
2. Don’t expect to be able to concentrate for an hour or two without any breaks. Read only until your brain is no longer comprehending the material, then get up, walk around, get a drink of water, and read some more. If you need to do this every 10 or 15 minutes, that’s okay. You just happen to be one of those people who learns best in short spurts.
3. To get an idea of the content you’ll need to understand, read the heading and all subheadings throughout the chapter.
4. Read the introduction at the beginning and the chapter summary at the end. Those will contain the important points that the author wants to emphasize.
5. Look back through the chapter and read any lists, italicized or bold words, maps and picture captions.
6. If there are questions at the end of the chapter, read those to get a better idea of what the author wants you to know.
7. Now that you know the overall concept and what the author thinks is important, you can begin to read, keeping the chapter questions in mind.
At first this method may seem to take longer, but don’t get discouraged. Once you learn to skim over each step, your study time will actually be much less and you’ll be far more likely to retain the things you need to know.

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