Start with the Big Picture

Building your filter means to notice what is important, Dr. Simpson said.

“The big idea is, you’re almost always better off drawing a big picture first and then filling in the details, seeing where they fit in that larger structure.”

The first step in reading your textbook according to College Rules! is getting to know the book. Start with the table of contents and decide how the book is structured. Then read the introduction or preface to get an idea of how the author writes and how they suggest you read and study the material. Finally, exam the material at the end of the book. There are usually many resources at the end of textbooks that can supplement the readings.

Dr. Simpson suggests reading textbooks by using the "SQ3R" method. It is described in detail below.

The SQ3R Reading Method

Survey: Read the title, introductions, summaries and headings. Also, look over any graphics and reading aids, such as chapter questions or bold-faced words.

Question: Turn each heading into as many questions as you think could be asked about it. You engage in learning when your mind is actively searching for answers to questions.

Read: Read each section with your questions in mind and try to answer them.

Recite: At the end of each section remember the questions and try to answer them from memory. If you are unable to answer them go back and reread. Do not move on until you can answer the questions from memory.

Review: Once you have finished the chapter go back through the headings and try to answer all the questions. If you have trouble answering them look back and refresh your memory.

(source: Virginia Tech University's Cook Counseling Center)