How well acquainted are you with your textbooks?

Your comprehension and retention may be limited if you haven't taken the time to get to know those books. Consider these points before you read:

Know your textbook. Before you read the first assignment, survey the entire book -

  • What are your resources within the book? Look for the Table of Contents, glossary, index, bibliography, maps and charts. Where are the notes-at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book?
  • Start looking at the first few pages and then thumb backwards from the end of the book until you reach regular text to see what special helps are available.
  • Next examine the first few chapters. How is each chapter arranged? Are there study questions at the end of each chapter or section? Are important topics noted in the margins or section heads? Are there special inserts with "extra" information? Are there pictures and captions?

Reading the assignment:

  • Before reading your assignment, determine your purpose for reading. Why are you reading it? What do you hope to learn? What type of information do you need to come away with? How will you use what you learn?
  • Scan the assignment before reading. Note the chapter title and section headings for a clue to what you will encounter. Read the introduction and summary, if included. Form questions in your mind (or write them down) to answer as you read.
  • While you read, underline or highlight key points and vocabulary. Later, go back and make sure you have really caught the important points. If not, highlight again.
  • When you finish reading, check to see you have answered your questions and any review questions in the text. If your instructor has given you any instructions or expectations, make sure you have answered questions raised by that. If you can't answer all the questions, re-read to find the answers.
  • Review your reading as soon as possible. Can you make an outline of the key points? Can you define important vocabulary? Do you understand what you have read?