Video: Reading Textbooks


Similar academic reading strategies apply to all kinds of readings you’ll do in college.  Practicing the habits of previewing, active reading, reviewing, and summarizing will continue to help you learn, no matter the type of class you’re reading for.

In addition to these general strategies, this visual offers advice specific to reading textbooks to get the most out of what you’re reading.

Infographic titled Textbook Reading. Purple text bubbles move from the top down. First, "Don't read everything. Skim and take notes, rather than reading every single word." A cartoon figure reads a book. Next, "Prioritize: What do you need to read thoroughly and what can you skim?" A cartoon figure sorts books into two piles, Read and Skim. Next, "Understand the Concept: Look for ideas and arguments rather than just facts." A cartoon figure smiles and raises arms while reading a book. Next: "Hierarchies of Importance: 1. Arguments: what the author is saying; 2. Descriptions: names, dates, etc. 3: Context: summary." Three cartoon figures wearing different colored costumes appear. Last: "Leave enough time: Assume each reading will take at least one hour." A cartoon figure looks at a clock while sweating.

To take this advice even further, the following videos consider the specific needs for particular types of classes you’re likely to take.

Math Texts

This overview video introduces some general concepts of how to read and study from math textbooks.

The second part of the series shows examples of concepts from the first video, as well as a summary of approaches useful when reading math.

Science Texts

This video debunks myths students might believe about reading science textbooks.  It also introduces a specific type of note-taking, called the Cornell Method, which is useful for other types of academic reading as well.


Social Science Texts

This video models reading a Psychology textbook.  The same techniques will be useful with other social science books, including Sociology, History, and Anthropology.  It includes nice tips regarding tables and graphs.