Textbook Reading Techniques

Things To Do Before You Read Your Textbook
  • Know your attention span. How many minutes can you read before your mind wanders? The average is 20-30 minutes.
  • Know how many pages you can read in an attention span. For instance, 10 pages in a 30-minute attention span.
  • Count the number of pages in your reading assignment and determine how many mini-breaks and real breaks will need to be taken to complete the reading successfully.
  • Survey the chapter before you read the assignment. Review the title of the chapter, the bolded subheadings, and the conclusion or summary, if the chapter has one.
Helpful Hint

If you survey the chapter ahead of time, your brain will have a primitive outline of the information contained in the chapter. This will allow you to extract the most important information from the chapter.

Reading Report Form

Divide your notebook paper into two columns, then begin reading the material. Put summary questions in the column on the left-hand side. These questions are about the concepts, themes, ideas, and definitions that you are reading. You will write the answers to the summary questions in the column on the right side of your page. When it is time to study or review the information from your text, which you should do on a weekly basis, you won't need to refer back to the book. Use your reading report forms in addition to your study guides from class.

For helpful strategies to achieve success at William & Mary please consider attending workshops provided by the Dean of Students office. We offer workshops in Time Management, Fantastic Finals, and Strategic Learning. Call the Dean of Students office at (757) 221-2510 for more information.