Before starting to read a chapter in your text, first look over the entire chapter.
This entire process should take between 5-10 minutes depending on the difficulty of the text. Surveying before you start to read a chapter will give you a better idea of what you will be learning. It allows you to connect what you may already know about the topic (prior knowledge) with the new information that you will be learning. These connections are vitally important for comprehension to occur.
After surveying the chapter, you need to establish some questions before reading. Take the first heading in the chapter and turn it into a question before reading the paragraphs in that section. For instance, if the heading is "A Limited Partnership", read it as "What is a limited partnership?" Now you have created a purpose for reading because you are looking for the answer to the question. When you get to the next heading, repeat the process. Turning headings into questions helps to focus your attention while maximizing your reading efficiency. If you don't find the answer to the question that you created, reread the paragraphs until you find the answer. Do not assume that you will understand the information later.
Here are other ways to create questions before reading:
Reading without formulating questions can result in a loss of concentration and comprehension. It is like driving to a friend's house without directions. The trip will take longer, will include errors, and may even end with you not finding your destination.
As you read your chapter assignment, you are looking for answers to the questions that you created from the headings. Important points related to the headings are presented in paragraphs. Usually the first sentence of each paragraph states the important point or main idea. (see Locating Main Ideas). The rest of the sentences provide details and examples to further explain the important point.
When reading, be sure to look for transition words such as next, for example, in contrast, in addition, etc. to help you follow the author's point. They are the road signs that let you know where you are going.
Students are encouraged to highlight important points and to make notes in the margins as they read. Numbering key points, labeling examples, circling important vocabulary, and boxing in important names are just a few of the ways that students can mark their texts.
Reciting or recalling information after reading helps to check your comprehension of the key points and important supporting details. If you can't recall key points that you may have highlighted or put on flash cards, then you need to reread those sections. Besides flash cards listing key words for review, you may have recorded key points on tape, created graphic mappings of major and minor details, or written notes. Using any of these strategies to test your immediate comprehension of what you read is so important for effective textbook reading. This works best when material is recited after a section or chapter is read, so don't just close the book and "hope" that you comprehended the text material. Take the time and recite or recall whatever you can remember as soon as you finish reading..
After studying the chapter, it is extremely important to conduct an overall review within 24 hours for maximum comprehension and memory. You can lose 80% of what you have learned if you do not review within the next day. You may conduct your review from any of the activities that you developed as part of your recitation strategy. You may review text highlighting and margin notes, audio taped notes, summary notes, mappings, and lecture notes. You may meet with a study group and review key concepts and supporting details.
The review should be part of your weekly plan for all of your classes to allow for the information to move into long term memory. Weekly reviews of the material should continue until a major unit test is given. Cramming as a type of review oftentimes creates anxiety and confusion and is not recommended.