Funny story... I've been really slacking in AP Biology but determined to get my F up to a reasonable grade, I signed up to take two unit exams this Friday. Which is only two days away. Even funnier (I made this a word if it wasn't already) story.. I haven't read any of chapters for the whole school year and I'm suppose to be up to chapter 9 by Friday. No wonder I have an F. Anyways, I do plan on reading all the chapters by then. Hopefully. So for the students who are in my spot right now, here's my ultimate guide on how to read a textbook. How to get the most valuable information in the least amount of time. Meaning, you won't be reading all the "textbook fluff"
Step 1: Break the Chapter Apart
Textbook chapters are LONG. Really-stinking long and if you're like me, you can not just sit there and read a whole 25-page chapter about cellular respiration and fermentation. That's gonna take like 2 hours man. So intead, chunk off your chapter in a logical way. If your chapter is organized by concepts, go 3-5 concepts at a time. If it's a literature or history textbook organized by paragraphs, shoot for 5-8 pages at a time. After each chunk, give a very short break (less than 3 min.) to refresh.
This method is like breaking your studying hours in 45:15 increments. Where you do 45 minutes of hard work followed by a 15 minute break. This will make the chapter seem less than what it actually is; making you less overwhelmed. Your brain will stay focused longer since it knows there's a break soon. This also is helpful to break of the chapters within the day. So you can do part of it in the morning, part of it during lunch, and part of it after school; rather than all 25 or so pages at once.
Step 2: Read the Objectives (or Overview)
This gives you an outline of exactly what you should know by the end of the chapter. Go over these a few times, comprehend it.
Step 3: Read the Key Concepts
In my AP biology book, there's a key concept review section at the end of each chapter that essentially summarizes the whole chapter. The key concepts are the need-to-know informations. The really important stuff you should have down because they'll be the ones most likely on the test.
Step 4: Skim Through the Chapter
Once you've read through the objectives and key concepts, you will now have a good idea of what the focus of the chapter will be as well and what you need to know all together. Now, go and skim through the chapter. Pay attention to:
Also: Don't skip over illustrations. I've seen many of my friends do this. They will not take their time to make illustrations such as graphs, tables, and diagrams if they did not think it was important. Illustrations are visual explanations.
Step 5: Read The First Two Sentences In Each Paragraph
This is an important fact. This is why the fact is important.
Go back and read the first two sentences in each paragraph of the chapter. Usually, the first sentence of a paragraph in textbooks will give you a fact or an idea. The following sentence or two will explain that fact and why it is important.
Following these steps should give you all the need-to-know information and the key points.
!!! It may not give you complete understanding if you don't do previous chapters as some concepts or key points will use vocabulary already defined in the previous chapters.
Go back to steps 2 and steps 3, if you can not confidently give a good summary of each objective and concept then you are not prepared enough for the test.
If you find that you don't understand a concept, do your due diligence and read the whole paragraph as it will go more into details. Go watch a youtube video to have a visual explanation. If it's a certain word, go to previous chapters and see if it has been defined before.
RIANNE DEL CARMEN
My biggest goal in life is to just live it. To enjoy every moment and find the beauty in all things. So I write to inspire others. Not to just enjoy life but to better themselves. To become a better student, a happier person, and a more loving human. With tips and stories, I hope to help you through all the rough edges.