Am I Reading a Textbook Efficiently?


Do you know that feeling when you’re reading the same line for ten times and not grasping the sense at all? Because I do. And I’m pretty sure that’s a very common problem for students who don’t know how in the world is it possible to learn many chapters in one night before the test (mind you, the “night” does not mean eight hours you should be sleeping).

Here are some tips that will help you. Nothing particularly mysterious or any terrible secrets passed down from generation to generation of people with straight A’s, just a small guide to improve your reading and studying habits.

First, find a nice location. It’s quite important to both sit comfortably (so that nothing would distract you) and feel collected – i.e. not lying on your back with a textbook threatening to slip out of your hands and land on your face. No judging, but I personally don’t find that studying position extremely efficient.

Second, look through the chapter. Evaluate the length of the chapter, take the glance at the definitions and bolded headlines – in general, just try to understand what you’re about to read. You can also check out the questions at the end of the chapter and keep them in mind while reading in more detail.

Having a somewhat understanding of the key terms will also come in handy. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the definitions from the chapter. That means they won’t be too foreign to you anymore when you read the text or encounter them somewhere else.

If you’re short on time, skip the unimportant parts that won’t be covered in the test or exam. They might serve a good purpose when you’re reading slowly and for your own interest, but not if you need other things to be done now.

Many students often highlight the key concepts in the book, but if you’re planning to sell your textbook, it’s best that you write out the important definitions (and then highlight as much as you want), especially taking into account that many studies suggest we remember things better when we write them down.

Finally, go to the questions at the end of the chapter once more, and this time, try to answer them. Reviewing the chapter in a few days will also help you remember more, but this applies only to such cases when you have luxury of a couple more days.

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