How to Get through the Torture of Reading a Textbook

If you’re a college student, you probably know what it is like to be reading page after page of your textbook— only to find you have to go back to reread the same pages because you zoned out or didn’t understand the material the first time. Whether it’s the dry, abundant material, or the struggle with focusing, follow these few easy tips to help get you through your next textbook reading.   

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

1. Take it one paragraph at a time.  

Given a 20-page reading assignment, it may feel overwhelming thinking of having to absorb loads of information, let alone read through it all. By focusing on one paragraph at a time, or sections at a time, you can give your attention to that information— rather than stressing about all the pages you have to read.


2. Breaks. Breaks. Breaks.

Taking frequent breaks while reading your textbook will give you time to absorb the information and not get stressed about how many pages you have to read. Taking a short break between paragraphs or sections to jot down a few key points or just think about the material will make reading your textbook more bearable.  


3. Reading atmosphere.

Try to find the best reading or studying environment for you. Whether that’s in a library with dead silence, curled up on the couch with your softest blanket, listening to the background noise of your television, or even standing up at a higher table— find the place that’s best for you to focus. Everyone focuses better in different ways, so finding a place that eliminates distractions and allows you to focus best may help get your reading done faster and more efficiently.


4. Snacks. All the snacks.

Keeping a healthy snack nearby to munch while your reading your textbook may help you stay focused and not as bored when reading your textbook: happy stomach, happy mind.  


5. Skim.

No, not Skim Milk. Rather, skim-read, or scan, the text, pictures, and captions before reading to get a sense of what the section is going to be about. By skimming the section beforehand, you can get familiar and comfortable with the reading without getting too overwhelmed with what you need to read. Likewise, if you didn’t have enough time to read, at least you became familiar with the text. 


6. First and last.

If you are on a time crunch and are worried about not having enough time to read your assigned textbook reading, just read the first and last sentence of each paragraph or the first and last paragraph of each section. Normally, paragraphs and sections introduce and sum-up information in the first and last sentences or paragraphs. Doing so will allow you to pick out what the main points are without the context or details.


Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash

Next time you are assigned to read long, wordy information out of your textbook, don’t get discouraged. Just think of reading your textbook as doing sprint intervals rather than running a marathon. Putting all your energy into reading short sections and taking short, frequent breaks, rather than reading it all in one go, will allow your brain to recover and may help you absorb the information better. Good luck and happy reading!