How To Make The Most Out Of Your Textbook While Studying

By Ashley Paskill on March 30, 2019

Studying using a textbook can be difficult and boring. Some textbooks are written in intimidating lingo that can be tough to understand. Other textbooks are so easy to understand that they are boring to read. However, this will not prevent a professor from assigning readings from the book. Knowing how to study the textbook and engage with the material will help you learn as much as you can from the class.

textbook study

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Take notes on the chapters

Taking notes on the chapter is a great way to help the information sink in. Put the textbook language in your own words so that you can remember it. Outline the chapters you need to study and do the questions at the end of the chapter. This will ensure that you can answer questions that may come up on exams. Make sure you can define terms listed at the end of the chapter by memory. Taking notes on paper as opposed to on a laptop has been proven to help

Use the online resources if available

Sometimes, textbooks come with an online portal for additional material and practice questions. Teachers may assign homework from the online questions, but it is a good idea to complete them even if they do not just for extra practice. These online portals may also have other resources such as videos and articles about the subject you are studying. If you bought a used textbook, the code to log into the online portal may have been used or may not even be with the textbook, but you can check with your school’s bookstore to see if the code can be sold separately. Sometimes, other students may not have used the code and are willing to sell the book and the code to you cheap.

Focus on keywords and facts

Try to pinpoint keywords for each chapter. Often times, these words appear on the exam. Use a study method such as flashcards to help you memorize them. Knowing the keywords can help build a base for learning the concepts. Some teachers may even have a definitions section on exams, and some teachers want you to go further beyond the definition and say what impact the keyword had on the overall subject. Also, look for key people and know who they were and the impact they had on the subject you are studying.

Focus on the main points and facts of each heading. Often times, the facts under the heading title support the title, so try to figure out the main point. It can be difficult to sift through. Many times, keywords and points are listed at the end of the chapter, so you can use this resource as a starting point and take notes from there. Being able to pinpoint key points will help you focus on the important parts of the chapter and understand how everything fits together.

Make flashcards with questions and definitions based on keywords and key points. If you have had exams with the professor before, be sure to come up with questions based on what your professor would ask and in the same kind of style. That way, once you get to the exam, you will be confident that you know the material.

Read the examples

It may be tempting to skim over the examples of the concepts in your textbook, but your teacher may reference the specific example on the exam or may ask for an example of the concept. Even if your teacher does not have a specific question about examples on the test, reading the example can give you a better grasp of the concept. It can give you a mental image of what the concept is about. After reading the examples, see if you can come up with your own to help you apply the knowledge you have gained.

Know your professor

Do not get bogged down focusing on specific dates if your professor only focuses on overarching themes or if you only need to put events in chronological order. Knowing what your professor expects can help save you time and aggravation. Take notes in class and supplement that with material from the textbook. The concepts that are heavily covered in class will likely be important, so use your textbook to flesh out what you talked about in class.

If you have not had a test with your professor yet, see if you can get in touch with someone who has. College Facebook groups or Rate My Professor are great ways to get other students’ opinions. However, take these with a grain of salt as they are often posted in passion, whether it is passionate like or passionate dislike.

Textbook studying can be difficult, but actively engaging with the material by taking notes and using online resources that come with the book can help.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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