There are several techniques that universities advocate for studying textbooks. Most of them have the same basic structure though.
- Preview - Quickly skim over the chapter you are studying to get an overview of the material. Read headings, sub-headings, bold words, and other words that are emphasized.
- Ask - Constantly ask yourself questions about the headings and keywords. Changing headings and keywords into questions, using who, what, where, when, and why.
- Read - Read the first section, answering the questions you asked earlier. Note any unexpected information as well. (Think about if your questions were on target and what you need to know. Compare what you are reading with what is discussed in class.)
- Record - Take notes of your answers, of important keywords, and of important concepts. More about this in Taking Notes
- Relate - Relate each section to the preceding and following sections. Relate information to your previous knowledge and experience.
- Recite - Cover your answers and notes, and recite them from heart.
- Repeat - Repeat the Ask-Recite sequence for each section in the chapter.
- Practice - Do any practice questions and exercises in the material.
- Review - Review all your notes, and try to recite the important concepts from heart.
The above is an amalgamation of the SQ5R,the Parcer study techniques, and Plan, Do, Review. The concept at the heart of these techniques is active reading. The idea is that instead of passively reading a textbook and not really paying attention, you have to actively engage your mind in the act of reading, thereby improving comprehension and retaining efficiency. The more you involve your mind in the reading, the better you'll remember.
- If there are words you don't understand, look them up in a dictionary or textbook related to the concept.
- Instead of merely "reading" sample problems, look for errors in the author's work. As you read each sentence or step, verify for yourself it is completely correct, and is a logical next step or conclusion.
- Copy a sample problem to another sheet of paper, then see if you can solve it yourself without looking at the textbook's solution (unless you get stuck). This makes the best use of sample problems, as students who "understood the lecture" or "read the chapter" often have difficulty doing their first problems using this new-found knowledge.
- Reading a page of a Math/Science textbook this way may take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, but will probably reduce your eventual study time for a quiz or test by an even greater amount.
- Understanding the main ideas of a topic does not mean you will be able to solve problems involving the topic. Spend more time solving problems than you do reading or listening.