Using Textbooks as Study Tools

Textbooks are a priceless academic resource. They contain detailed explanations of topics covered in class and more in-depth information than a professor can possibly provide during an hour-long lecture. Textbooks can also help you get better grades, but only if you know how to use them effectively. Consider the following points:

    • Use textbooks as sources of background or supplementary information: An instructor might cover a topic over an hour of class time. Your textbook might devote 80 pages to that same topic. Taking a few hours to read through the information in your textbook can give you a deeper understanding of the material that either will be or has been covered in class.
  • Don’t try to memorize everything contained in your text about a topic: The sheer volume of material found in textbooks means that you shouldn’t try to memorize everything that they contain about specific topics. Unless you have a photographic memory, you won’t succeed, and this failure can lead to frustration. As a result, when it comes to textbooks, it’s generally better to read them in order to more fully understand the concepts and not to memorize everything that is included about a topic.
  • Mark important information and make margin notes: While memorizing long passages in a textbook is not a good strategy, learning key points contained in a textbook is. After you’ve read a chapter and gotten a general overview of a subject, go back to find the main points. If you own the book, use a highlighter to mark key facts, dates, terms, problems, etc., and make notes in the margins about crucial concepts. If you have to return the book, use it to add more details and references to pages of the text in your class notes.

 

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