How to Read a College Textbook

Reading a college textbook can be a bit overwhelming.   Reading a Textbook

The syllabus says to read 2 chapters a week.  You try but after about 8 pages, you give up.  Nothing is making sense. How are you supposed to do this?  

Thomas Frank, author of 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (while studying less), has some tips to reading a textbook:

1. Before reading your textbook, find out how you are going to be tested 

This is important!  Your course/unit objectives can give you some hints. It's also acceptable to ask your instructor how the exams will be.  Check your syllabus though as this information is usually in there.  

2. Read the textbook actively

Read with pen in hand.  Mark your textbook with highlighters. Make notes in the margin. Use sticky notes to flag important items or areas where you have questions. If it's bold or highlighted in the text, pay attention to it!

3. Read the chapter backwards

At the end of most textbook chapters is a list of vocabulary words or terms.  Those can be a nice indicator of important areas on which you want to focus as you read. 

4. Use Cornell Notes as a structure for your reading notes

Make notes as you read.  List questions in your notes to ask others or research further.  Summarize each page of notes to allow your brain to process that information again. 

5. Remember your text book is not a website or a novel

When you are preparing to read your textbook, be in an environment that is relatively distraction-free and be ready to read and learn.  This is not a time to multitask. 


Information on this page is based on 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (while studying less) by Thomas Frank.


Want Additional Information?

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