How to Read the Textbook

You cannot study well without effective use of the textbook. Most textbooks are well-written and worthy of your careful reading. You should read the textbook several times in different ways to fully appreciate what is covered there.

  • Read before lecture to see what is covered in the book and what you need to pay special attention to during the lecture. Read with questions in your mind: Which problem are we solving? What is the main theorem? How is it proved? What is the main formula? How is it derived? What are the main examples? How are they solved? If you don't understand the answers to these questions, then pay special attention during lecture.
  • Read after lecture to form a complete understanding of the material covered in the lecture. Did the professor cover your questions? Are there parts of the lecture you do not understand but you can study from the textbook?
  • Read the theorems and proofs and classic examples several times to gain a through understanding. What are the conditions of the theorem? What does the theorem give us? Where can the theorem be applied? How are the examples related to homework problems?
  • Read before tests to have a complete review.
  • Read, think and ask questions. Keep a balance of the three.

Tips for effective reading:

  • Look over chapter title(s).
  • Formulate questions.
  • Look at pictures, graphs, figures, etc., and reading captions.
  • Notice underlined or italicized words or formulas.
  • Read summary paragraphs or conclusions.
  • Look at study questions at ends of chapters.
  • Learn new reading techniques such as speed-reading, phrase-reading, survey-reading.
  • Write down key terms, phrases, and formulas.
  • Go back and underline or highlight key sections and words.
  • Answer study questions; do sample problems.
  • Get together with others in your class and ask each other questions on the reading.
  • Make a simple outline of material read.
  • Restate in your own words the essential definitions, ideas, formulas and facts just read.
  • Use multiple senses (hearing, seeing, speaking, writing, acting) that help in remembering.
  • Reviewing and rereading increases comprehension and achievement.
  • Periodic review will keep things fresh.


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