Wednesday, February 6, 2013

READ and RAID your textbook

Most students don't know how to read their A&P textbook.

Oh yeah, they give it a try.  They sit down with the book and try to make it through a couple of chapters.  Maybe three or four chapters . . . because, well, er, they've put off reading the book as long as they can.  Look at that thing!  It's huge!  And all the complex terminology!

It's not that they can't read . . . the problem is that they don't have the needed skills to use an A&P textbook effectively.

So how can you get more out of that huge, expensive book?  Following are some tips:

1. Look over the organization of the chapter first. 

If there's a brief outline in the chapter opener, don't skip it. If there isn't one, then quickly skip the chapter and read each heading and subheading.  This gives you the gist of the story and provides a framework in your head upon which you can build your understanding as you read.

2. Read all the key terms out loud before reading. 

It sounds crazy, I know.  But it works.  By saying each word before you read, your brain becomes familiar with the term more quickly.  Then, as you read, you won't stumble over the word or simply skip over it—either of which won't help you learn what you need to learn.  If there isn't a word list in the chapter, then simply skim the chapter saying each boldface term out loud.

3. Chunk the chapter.

Some textbook chapters go on and on . . . and on.  Well, don't let them!  Just read one or two sections at a time.  By breaking it up, you can comprehend more of what you read.  And it spreads the work of reading out over several days, making it less likely that you'll avoid a painfully long reading session.

4. Actively review what you read. 

Most textbooks have review questions built into chapter sections and at the end of the chapter.  Don't ignore them.  Better yet, write out the answers.  By using multiple senses, your understanding (and memory) will be strengthened.  Always double check that your answers are correct, perhaps asking your study partners or professor for help.

5. Raid your book later.

After you've read a chapter in your textbook, you're not done with the book.  As you study the material, or build on it in later parts of the course, you'll want to come back to particular topics and "raid" it for specific bits of information to review again.  As you pay attention to the organization of each chapter (see item #1 above), you'll be able to easily find the treasures you need within each chapter.

For more on these tips--plus some additional tips to make your reading easier and more effective—check out the video.

For even more ideas to help you with your textbook, try these: