Below are eight tips to help you read and understand your text book so you can guarantee yourself better grades.
1. Skim through all titles and headings before reading the first paragraph. This will give you an idea regarding the material covered in the chapter or section and help you create a mental picture of the material as you read.
2. Quickly read through the material in the section the first time to pick out the basic concepts. Do not try to remember or write down specific details yet. Just get an idea of what is discussed in the reading.
3. Re-read the section carefully and take notes as you read. Read a paragraph or even a few sentences if the paragraphs are complicated, stop, and think about what you read. This is the RST method. Read, Stop and take a few minutes to digest the material and Think about what you read. Paraphrase the material. Put it in your own language; what does it mean to you? You may even want to recite what you read out loud. A lot of students find the Thinking part easier when they actually get their thoughts down on paper. Do not try to write everything, just little phrases to remind yourself of what you just thought about.
4. Be sure to look at figures, diagrams, and inserts. One picture or graph may contain the same amount of information found in a lengthy paragraph and be much easier to decipher. Be sure to read all captions.
5. Record all boldfaced words and their meanings in your own words in your notes. They must be important if the textbook authors and publishers went out of their way to boldface them!
6. Once you are finished reading, summarize what you just read out loud. Your ability to discuss this will serve as a true test to determine whether or not you understood what you just read.
7. Skim through the text a few more times, especially prior to and after lectures that compliment the material in the text.
8. Try to organize all of your notes to create the big picture. Add information from your class notes to your text notes and/or add information from your text notes to your class notes. This combination is easily accomplished if you type over your notes, leaving yourself with a neat, organized and thorough copy of everything you need to know for that chapter/unit.
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