5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments – College Info Geek

5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments – College Info Geek

Hey, what’s up? It’s Thomas Frank, and in
this video we’re talking about active reading. Active reading is a method of reading a book
with the intent of pulling something useful out of it. It’s different from passively going
over the text once to experience it. Right off the bat I’m going to say there were a
lot of systems that have been put forward like SQ3R, SQ4R, and lots of other acronym
driven systems for active reading, and I think that these systems are too cumbersome, they
take too long, and I’m not going to be going over them in this video. I’m not the only
one who think this. Instead what I’m going to do is show you how I’m applying active
reading to 3 specific books that I’ve been reading recently, and how I’m able to recall
the information better by doing that. First I’m going to give you 5 general active reading
tips that you can apply to any reading that you have to do. The first tip is to use a
technique called pseudo-skimming. The longer the readings that you have to do
are, the more likely a lot of the paragraphs in those readings are going to be filler.
That could be background, that could be extra detail, it could be asides. Things like that.
Often you don’t really need to read these paragraphs all that in depth to get the information
you need for your classes. The pseudo-skimming technique is really a paragraph by paragraph
technique where you skim each paragraph very quickly, and then you get a feel for the reading
and figure out which paragraphs hold the most important information. The second tip is to
try to read backwards. A lot of textbooks are not all that exciting. They don’t really
have a narrative, and you’re not going to spoil yourself if you read it backwards, or
go to the end. If you want to figure out what a certain chapter
is all about, you can first go to the back, look at summary, look at the vocab lists that
are put back there, some of the questions, the review items, and get a feel for what
the actual chapter wants you to learn in a big sense, like a sky high sense. Once you
get that you can start going backwards and seeing, okay, yes. This vocab word was mentioned
here. This graphic mentions a topic that was in a review question, etc. Tip number 3 is
to come up with questions while you read. When you are going through the chapter, if
you are doing pseudo-skimming, or anything else, when something comes up that you don’t
really know about, then note that down as a question. You can also use the headings,
the sub-headings in the chapter as questions. If there’s a sub-heading that talks about
a specific concept, you can re-word that as a question, maybe even right it down in your
notes, and then as you go through the actual content of that section answer the question
for yourself. You can do this in review as well. Tip number
4 is to pay attention to the formatting of a text. When I was in college I would do this
with almost all of my readings. I would open up the book, I would look at almost every
single bolded item, or list of things, and I would pay special attention to those items
in the text because they probably were to go over processes that are important to the
chapter, or go over vocab terms that are almost certainly going to appear on tests. Pay attention
to things that stand out, and their formatting, and not those down. My last tip before I get
into some of the books I’m reading is to either mark up the book while you’re reading. If
you own the book, you can write in it with a pencil, and make notes in the margins, which
is really helpful. If you don’t, you can use flags, or possibly highlight depending on
your schools policies, and I’ll show you that in a bit. If you really don’t want to mark
up your book, then you can take really short bulleted notes on a piece of paper.
You can also put questions in there, or you can take flow style notes. I’ll throw some
of my recent notes up on screen here. These are notes I took in researching textbook reading
strategies for these videos in this one, and the last one. As you can see, I took notes
on the things I was reading, actually for multiple books, but it ended creating a better
picture that I could come back to. It’s in my own words, it’s in my own terms, so it
makes for better recall. Those are my 5 tips, and to round this video out, I’m going to
show you a few of the books that I’ve been reading, and 3 different active reading strategies
that I adopted for each book. The first book is, “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.
This book is about cognitive biases, it’s about bugs in human reasoning, and rationality,
and decision making. It’s a super dense book. I’ve only gotten to page 145 as my little
Ninetails will tell you. If you look at the side of it, I’ve used flags to markup almost
every page that I have read. This is one of those books that’s packed with
information on almost every single page. Every single chapter mention multiple studies with
lots of results, defines different terms, and I was interested in almost everything
I was reading here, so as I went through I used flags to markup the book in a non-damaging
way. I was reading this book about a year ago. I’ve become a little bit more okay with
marking up my books permanently since then, but the flag method does work, especially
if you’re renting textbooks, or you plan on selling it later. You can pull them out when
you need to when you have good notes for them, and you finished reviewing. It’s a pretty
good method. The second book here is “Confessions of a Scholarship Winner” by Kristina Ellis,
and I’m going through this book because it’s a fantastic overview of how to win scholarships.
Probably going to put it on my essential books list and create a lot of blog posts, and things
on it. This book I went through with a pencil and
I would bracket paragraphs that held specific ideas I wanted to review later. I would write
notes in the margin underlining specific terms that are really important. As I’m looking
back through the book I can see all the spots that I wanted to note for later. I’m going
to go through the book a second time once I finish reading it, and take good notes on
it. Speaking of notes, the book I’ve been reading most recently is “The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg. If you were to be able to look through this book, you’ll see no markings
whatsoever. I actually have a third active reading system which is working really, really
well for me at this point, and it’s just to take notes on the chapter after I’ve read
it. I’ve created a habit of reading this “Power of Habit” … I’ve created a habit of reading
this book every single day for at least 15 minutes.
I check it off in HabitRPG, and it’s something that’s becoming a very strong habit for me,
so I definitely do it every day. About once every 2 days I finish a chapter. Immediately
when I finish reading a chapter, I’ll go over to Evernote on my desktop computer, go back
through the chapter and write notes in Evernote, which you can see right now on the chapter.
I’ve got a good bulleted summary of almost the entire book right now. Everything that
I thought was important in the book is in that summary, and it’s going to be about 3,000
words once I finish it, I’m estimating. That’s a lot less than what’s in the book, and if
I want to go back and review what I learned it’s going to be much easier, and it’s in
my own words as well. Those are some of the strategies you can use for active reading.
Hopefully you can implement some of these into your studies in order to cut down on
that study time, and increase your recall and your ability to do better on tests, and
essays, and whatever it is you need to apply your readings to.
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100 Replies to “5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments – College Info Geek”

  1. +Thomas Frank
    Hi, can you please explain your "flag method"?
    For example, what is the purpose of each color (the sticky note)?
    Thank you.

  2. it is very useful information thanks for sharing. and which kind of application have you used to create that diagram?

  3. Interesting how you critique SQ3R but then essentially that is what you are presenting on.

    :45 Psuedo-skimming (Survey)
    1:56: come up with Questions
    2:26: Read
    2:56: Take notes (Recite)
    5:22 Review.

  4. I'm studying about "Constitucional Law Practice", translating (Portuguese) and summarizing "10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades", and reading "The power of the habit".I'm really having a great time! 😀

  5. I'm so thankful for this video. You inspire me to overcome college challenges. Keep your working. You're doing a great job.

  6. For reading a book, not a textbook, what is the best strategy to take notes? Read a chapter/section then take notes? Page by page notes?

  7. Can you do a video on reading highly technical textbooks? I've got textbooks where the content is so difficult to comprehend and and restate in my own words. Any suggestions?

  8. Funny, I'm reading Thinking Fast and Slow right now. Sigh, I am doing a marathon of productivity/academic videos instead of actually studying.

  9. i really want to thank you for your useful advises which make me better
    as a sign of gratitude let me give you an advise
    (please learn about (islam

  10. Excellent videos. For a non native english speaker, your diction and accent are superb for a clearly understanding. Thank you and congratulations.

  11. Thomas, your videos are really great. I did not have your videos while I pursued two masters and started my PHD, but I have used all your methods/techniques without knowing there were formal names for them. Anyway, I think what you are doing is fantastic. Please continue to provide great content. God bless.

  12. Thank you for the tips! Being a full time student was hard up until I viewed this video! Now I can study with confidence.

  13. since you mentioned that games could be a reward, what kind of games (computer games) would you suggest just for that reward system? I know the games that I used to play would require lots of time and effort and would not work for this method. Thanks

  14. Hey Im wondering if you have a recomendation for reading books that are a lot older then your typical textbook. Im an archaeology student and that means lots of scientific/dense text and or text written circa 1980 ( so much pointless background/ obsolete info and no helpful summeries at the end). Any tips on getting through 200 + pages of that stuff a week?

  15. Recently found your channel and I want to say you HUGE thank you for doing what you do – getting people more productive,clever and focused😃

  16. You can't skim anything! My text books have to be read in its entirety. Professors at my university throw in random innocuous questions just to make sure we read the entire text!

  17. Could I ask you to merry me? I am an italian nerd, based in Modena. I can cook and I am a member of the ancient nerdclub of Italy 😂😂😂

  18. Thank you so very much! I tend to 'drift away' to other subjects while I'm studying. This technique will certainly help to ground myself onto what I'm attempting to learn. …

  19. Do you buy all these books or there is a way to rent those? I really want to read books at home but buying the books so expensive so is there any information for this to how to get books?

  20. I have ADHD-combined type. I winged all my primary and secondary schooling, relying on the classes that I could 'hyperfocus' on to make up for the classes I borderline or outright failed. This also meant I never learned how to effectively study. My grades were above average so no one picked up on just how far behind I was really falling. I have therapy and medication now that I'm diagnosed but the networks that fuel my executive function, yknow adult life vs child life, will always leave me with a bit of a handicap.
    You present your info very well! You get into what detail you need to without waffling on and without a million jumpcuts to distract the viewer. The subtitles are a huge help for me specifically as well. Got yourself a new subscriber man, many thanks!

  21. Do you have any tips on staying focused when reading a lot? I consistently have 3-6 hours of straight reading every single day, usually dense literature/philosophy or textbooks, and I've been having the hardest time staying focused during long periods of reading. If you have any advice that'd be great 🙂

  22. When I study history, every single sentence is important. How do I go about taking notes or even learning it?

  23. Hey Tom! Can you make a video about how to memorize? I go to Law School, and books we read here are full of important information that is necessary to have in mind word-by-word.

  24. What helps me in the active reading besides highlighting important passages is to try and write them on the side of the paragraph, it helps me to remember and if i need to create a study guide.

  25. Thanks a lot, Thomas! This video is really helpful to me 🙂
    Love your channel 💙 🤗

  26. Sometimes I catch myself pseudo-skimming through some of these YouTube videos. Looking for those “nuggets”.

  27. In my communication seminar, there are a few reading techniques I'd like to add. Number the paragraphs, read the first & last sentences of each paragraph (to weed the filler), and use a "chunk chart" as a summary method; where you group paragraphs by sections/chunks (like paragraphs 1-5) and write the main point of each section. We used this on podcasts too. Hope it helps.
    My college doesn't have letter grades, instead you pass or fail based on validations of your own skill sets.

  28. Why didn't you give a real example of a science textbook and actually show the process. ..I didn't find this helpful at all

  29. I've read 'Thinking Fast and Slow' and was very impressed at the beginning of the book, but I literally had to force myself to finish the rest because it ended up just boring me

  30. Very helpful! Although this didn't really help me when studying for bio, this was super helpful for AP euro.

  31. Thank you for this video. I am a working adult with 2 years left on my bachelor's degree. Being out of school for an extended period of time has proven a huge challenge as reading was never at the top of my list. By far, the most challenging thing is my reading and study time. This video has given me some great tips on how to cut down on the time I spend reading and to narrow in on what I need to focus on as working and hobbies are also a part of my daily life. The videos and content are very relateable and you give some great advice. Thank you so much for the short, but information videos that give some great ideas and different methods and tips to try.

  32. Thomas Frank "10 STeps to Earning Aweesome Grades" refered to me here lol. Its a nice book by the way. I am on page 37. We are talking about the 5 Active Reading Strategies. I also liked how he explained to not to read the textbook like its a newsaper. On the different note taking tips I prefer the outline/ cornell notes.

  33. Discovered your channel today. Thank you so much for saving another college student from poor grades! I'm good at reading, but below-par when it comes to retaining the information. Your tips make a lot of sense, and I can't wait to put 'em into practice. Subbed!

  34. As always, very useful video! I do my best to implement those strategies to medical content reading, which are most of the time dense content! Do you have any thoughts that could be directed to the medical professions field? Wish you all the best! Jesús.

  35. My boy took part in reading support services when he was in first grade. This great reading guideline “fetching loli only” ( lovy.biz/n479 ) has helped a lot in improving the reading skills of my son while he is on grade level and his development really impressed his reading tutor. For me personally, this program should be used in school.

  36. I love your positiveness and all of your videos I've watched. Thank you a lot. LOVE, LIVE, LEARN n LAUGH MAC

  37. Thanks for the video, Mr. Frank, very insightful. I'm curious, do you know roughly howmany words per minute you're reading when you do your 15 minutes reading Power of Habit?

  38. Would you also recommend these strategies for nightly readings as a leisure time? Thank you! Great video by the way.

  39. Can you please post a video on how to take flow style notes as you said you used it to take notes at 3:14? Thank you!!!

  40. I would like to get a copy of your book when it comes out. I watch your videos when I have time but it is not all the time. College is a lot of hard work and dedication.

    1) Go to the back of the book straight away and look at the keywords, summary, conclusion, questions
    2) The longer the text, the more likely they are not so important. So go through the paragraphs and identify which ones are really important.
    3) Come up with questions before you begin a new chapter/section, and as you read, answer them.
    4) Pay attention to special formats, anything that stands out. They are likely to be important.
    5) Take notes, mark while you're reading (you can use post-it notes, pencil to scribble on the book or just take notes in a separate notebook, application after each chapter)

  42. My problem is that when I read 10 pages without taking notes, it already takes me like 20-30 minutes. If I highlight things while reading and note things down .. it takes me at least 90 minutes.

    My question: Am I too slow or is that normal?

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