Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Reading Your Textbooks

Did you ever find yourself reading a chapter in a textbook and not being able to remember what you read? There is a sure way to remedy this. It's called label in the margin.

You should begin by surveying what you are about to read. Look at the major heading, the charts and pictures, read the summary, study the review questions. In addition, search your memory for anything you already know about what your assigned reading. The more you know about what you're reading, the easier it will be to process it into your long-term memory.

Read only one paragraph at a time, and before you begin to read that paragraph look for a reason to read the paragraph. Use clues such as the heading or topic sentence. Do not mark as you read.

When you finish the paragraph, put yourself in the position of your professor. What test question will you ask from that paragraph? Actually write that question in the margin of your textbook. Now mark the answer to the question by underlining, numbering, boxing, circling, etc.

Want to make sure you always do well on pop quizzes and cut down on study time for major tests? Put this information in your long-term memory now by covering the text and asking yourself the question written in the margin. Recite the answer in your own words. You are now ready to read the next paragraph.

It may take you longer to read a chapter this way, but there are definite advantages:

√ You can read it a bit at a time--a page here and a page there--taking advantage of short periods of time you usually waste or didn't have time for a whole chapter.

√ You never have to re-read the chapter.

√ You know the test questions in advance.

√ You have a systematic way to study your textbook.