How to Read Science and Theory/Concept Heavy Textbooks?

j814wong

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 24, 2012
147
2
New York, U.S.A.
  1. Pre-Medical
    I'm not asking about whether or not you read teh textbook or what in textbooks you read but rather, how you read the stuff you read.

    Do you just read the words stragith from the book and absorb it? Or do you do something fancier like actively pausing the reading to link concepts together?

    Which way works best for you?

    Currently, I just read straight through the textbook but that doesn't seem too efficient in learning content.

    I also slow down my reading speed because I always worry that I might be missing something.
     

    appleman123

    Full Member
    Removed
    Nov 24, 2012
    178
    0
      very easily actually...turn on the fireplace, fill your pipe with some colombian tobacco, put on some classical music, and read while taking long puffs.

      trust me, 60% of the time, it works every time.
       

      j814wong

      Full Member
      5+ Year Member
      Sep 24, 2012
      147
      2
      New York, U.S.A.
      1. Pre-Medical
        very easily actually...turn on the fireplace, fill your pipe with some colombian tobacco, put on some classical music, and read while taking long puffs.

        trust me, 60% of the time, it works every time.

        Fireplace - Check
        Tobacco - Don't smoke
        Classical Music - Already listen to it
        Take long puffs - See second

        60% - Not the best odds.
         
        About the Ads

        passionformed

        Full Member
        Dec 30, 2012
        240
        2
        1. Pre-Medical
          May I ask which textbook?

          Anyway, here is how I do it: I read through the chapter the first time very slowly, accepting the facts, linking the concepts, making sure I know what I am reading. I take notes too, not because I will use them later (sometimes I do) but because I retain things better when I write them down. For each concept I am a little confused about, I google/youtube it to make sure I get it. Then I think of it intuitively and develop insight. These things are further amplified as I solve problems and re-read.

          Summary: Read slowly, link concepts, make sure you understand, solve problems, re-read again once, make sure you understand what's going on.
           

          j814wong

          Full Member
          5+ Year Member
          Sep 24, 2012
          147
          2
          New York, U.S.A.
          1. Pre-Medical
            May I ask which textbook?

            Anyway, here is how I do it: I read through the chapter the first time very slowly, accepting the facts, linking the concepts, making sure I know what I am reading. I take notes too, not because I will use them later (sometimes I do) but because I retain things better when I write them down. For each concept I am a little confused about, I google/youtube it to make sure I get it. Then I think of it intuitively and develop insight. These things are further amplified as I solve problems and re-read.

            Summary: Read slowly, link concepts, make sure you understand, solve problems, re-read again once, make sure you understand what's going on.

            Campbell Biology.

            When you link the stuff together, is it while reading, you stop to pause and link it to the other stuff? From what you are suggesting, I plan to read through each paragraph at a good pace to absorb the information than stop at the end of each paragraph, ensure comprehension and link with past content.

            Thanks for the reply.
             

            plumhill

            Full Member
            Dec 3, 2011
            1,071
            94
            "The Library"
            1. Pre-Medical
              From left to right.

              no but seriously. I prefer to read in chunks, then take notes about what I read (as much as I can w/o referring to the book), then re-read the section and add what I missed. I take way too many notes but it helps me retain the material and my grades definitely seem to approve of the practice :p
               

              Aerus

              Elemental Alchemist
              7+ Year Member
              Apr 21, 2012
              3,226
              2,483
              1. Medical Student
                Campbell Biology.

                When you link the stuff together, is it while reading, you stop to pause and link it to the other stuff? From what you are suggesting, I plan to read through each paragraph at a good pace to absorb the information than stop at the end of each paragraph, ensure comprehension and link with past content.

                Thanks for the reply.

                Making up very weird analogies to explain the different concepts and phenomena was useful in helping me get through Campbell. Mind you I was a junior in high school and was independently studying without a class, so I made up a lot of immature analogies that may no longer be applicable as an older, more mature college student, but hey, they helped me get through the book and pass out of general bio. :D
                 

                IslandStyle808

                Akuma residency or bust!
                7+ Year Member
                Aug 5, 2012
                5,457
                4,221
                  I'm not asking about whether or not you read teh textbook or what in textbooks you read but rather, how you read the stuff you read.

                  Do you just read the words stragith from the book and absorb it? Or do you do something fancier like actively pausing the reading to link concepts together?

                  Which way works best for you?

                  Currently, I just read straight through the textbook but that doesn't seem too efficient in learning content.

                  I also slow down my reading speed because I always worry that I might be missing something.

                  I don't like book reading because it is least efficient way of learning but here is my strategy:
                  1) Read the summary on the back of the books to get the main take home concepts
                  2) Skim all the titles of the book to get the big picture
                  3) Read and stop after every paragraph and summarize what you have read (if you are not able to then you then you are not retaining)
                  4) Write notes of key concepts
                  5) Try to do practice questions to see if you grasp what you needed to
                  6) Read certain areas again if there are problems in understanding
                   

                  MaenadsDance

                  Full Member
                  Jun 24, 2011
                  482
                  8
                  California
                  1. Pre-Medical
                    Have you tried the Gummy Bear method? You place a gummy bear at the bottom of every page and get to eat it if you can summarize the text you just moved your eyes over.

                    More seriously, I read critically - writing questions in the margins and doodling out concepts (trying to draw 3D representations of molecules on the margins of my chem text, for instance). I take notes and I work out all practice problems. I try to relate concepts from one class or textbook to concepts in another class or textbook, so that I'm integrating my knowledge. I try to read for recognition and understanding rather than memorization.

                    Also, if it's a particularly boring or technical text, I read it aloud. It is very hard to glaze over if you're reading aloud. This is how I got through Kant's Critique of Pure Reason a few years ago (and I assure you, German philosophy is just as tough as anything in the sciences!). I try to reread particularly difficult texts, and see whether the questions I doodled in the margins the first time through have been answered now that I've completed the reading.

                    Concept webs/concept maps are good. Trying to summarize how each chapter you finish builds on concepts from previous chapters is good.

                    What about going to office hours and talking with the prof about questions and ideas that came up while reading? Not "I don't understand this word," questions, but "What are the larger implications of X idea for the field as a whole?" questions. I have an easier time being interested in minutia when I understand how they relate to the big ideas.
                     
                    About the Ads

                    clutch21

                    Full Member
                    7+ Year Member
                    Apr 23, 2012
                    184
                    102
                    1. Resident [Any Field]
                      I have found the figures, charts, visual stuff etc. really useful when trying to master concepts taught in science textbooks. I like to think of the figures as whats most important, and the text itself is a supplement to understand the figures. In campbell, I found it helpful to spend a decent amount of time just trying to understand exactly what was being shown in the figures.
                       

                      j814wong

                      Full Member
                      5+ Year Member
                      Sep 24, 2012
                      147
                      2
                      New York, U.S.A.
                      1. Pre-Medical
                        Making up very weird analogies to explain the different concepts and phenomena was useful in helping me get through Campbell. Mind you I was a junior in high school and was independently studying without a class, so I made up a lot of immature analogies that may no longer be applicable as an older, more mature college student, but hey, they helped me get through the book and pass out of general bio. :D

                        Mind giving me an example of such an analogy?
                         

                        Aerus

                        Elemental Alchemist
                        7+ Year Member
                        Apr 21, 2012
                        3,226
                        2,483
                        1. Medical Student
                          Mind giving me an example of such an analogy?

                          Here's one that I still remember. It's translation in protein synthesis, which is like Chapter 17. I use a "party analogy".

                          You have the large and small sub unit, which make up the ribosome. This occurs in the cytoplasm, which is like the party neighborhood. The ribosome is the house where the party occurs. Basically, you have three sites for the large subunit, A, P, and E. In reality, they stand for arrival, polypeptide, and exit, but for our analogy, think of it as "Admittance", "Party", and "Exit".

                          So a tRNA is a person who wants to go into this "party house" ribosome. But in order to be admitted into the party ("Admittance"), the tRNA needs money to enter the party, AKA a piece of polypeptide chain. He only has one piece of amino acid (one coin). The tRNA that's currently inside the party (the P site) sees the tRNA outside with only one amino acid and feels sad. He gives him his whole polypeptide chain to enter the party.

                          BUT, here's the twist. The tRNA inside the party doesn't have anymore money! So he gets booted out to "Exit" and must leave the party. The tRNA waiting outside now has the long polypeptide chain that was given by the tRNA that was inside and now has that chain AND the amino acid it had before. The tRNA enters the party ("P site") and parties until another tRNA with only one amino acid comes.

                          The cycle keeps repeating. Later, a stop codon (The mom) comes home and sees the party. It's furious that there is a party in her house, gets super angry, and her fury (the release factor) breaks up the ribosome into its subunits again and the completed polypeptide chain (AKA the money made during the party) is donated to charity (AKA it goes off into the cytoplasm and will be used for protein synthesis).

                          Sorry if this was hard to understand, but these types of analogies was how I got through self studying AP Biology. Hope you enjoyed it!
                           
                          About the Ads

                          j814wong

                          Full Member
                          5+ Year Member
                          Sep 24, 2012
                          147
                          2
                          New York, U.S.A.
                          1. Pre-Medical
                            Here's one that I still remember. It's translation in protein synthesis, which is like Chapter 17. I use a "party analogy".

                            You have the large and small sub unit, which make up the ribosome. This occurs in the cytoplasm, which is like the party neighborhood. The ribosome is the house where the party occurs. Basically, you have three sites for the large subunit, A, P, and E. In reality, they stand for arrival, polypeptide, and exit, but for our analogy, think of it as "Admittance", "Party", and "Exit".

                            So a tRNA is a person who wants to go into this "party house" ribosome. But in order to be admitted into the party ("Admittance"), the tRNA needs money to enter the party, AKA a piece of polypeptide chain. He only has one piece of amino acid (one coin). The tRNA that's currently inside the party (the P site) sees the tRNA outside with only one amino acid and feels sad. He gives him his whole polypeptide chain to enter the party.

                            BUT, here's the twist. The tRNA inside the party doesn't have anymore money! So he gets booted out to "Exit" and must leave the party. The tRNA waiting outside now has the long polypeptide chain that was given by the tRNA that was inside and now has that chain AND the amino acid it had before. The tRNA enters the party ("P site") and parties until another tRNA with only one amino acid comes.

                            The cycle keeps repeating. Later, a stop codon (The mom) comes home and sees the party. It's furious that there is a party in her house, gets super angry, and her fury (the release factor) breaks up the ribosome into its subunits again and the completed polypeptide chain (AKA the money made during the party) is donated to charity (AKA it goes off into the cytoplasm and will be used for protein synthesis).

                            Sorry if this was hard to understand, but these types of analogies was how I got through self studying AP Biology. Hope you enjoyed it!

                            And with that, I just learned Protein Synthesis. You sir, should write a book of biology analogies. That was actually amusing to read. :laugh:

                            Do you mind if I start a thread about biology analogies using your example as the first to start the thread? Credit will be given.
                             

                            Aerus

                            Elemental Alchemist
                            7+ Year Member
                            Apr 21, 2012
                            3,226
                            2,483
                            1. Medical Student
                              And with that, I just learned Protein Synthesis. You sir, should write a book of biology analogies. That was actually amusing to read. :laugh:

                              Do you mind if I start a thread about biology analogies using your example as the first to start the thread? Credit will be given.

                              Haha, embarrassingly I still use such unorthodox methods for memorizing things. I also made a whole set of AP Chem mnemonics, but that's a story for another time.

                              But anyways, sure. If this actually helps people, then I guess I should be happy. :D
                               

                              j814wong

                              Full Member
                              5+ Year Member
                              Sep 24, 2012
                              147
                              2
                              New York, U.S.A.
                              1. Pre-Medical
                                Haha, embarrassingly I still use such unorthodox methods for memorizing things. I also made a whole set of AP Chem mnemonics, but that's a story for another time.

                                But anyways, sure. If this actually helps people, then I guess I should be happy. :D

                                I'm sure there are some people who'd like for you to share those mnemonics. ;)

                                Your example has inspired me to create my own crazy set of analogies.
                                 

                                lucitrea

                                go big or go home
                                Nov 7, 2011
                                67
                                6
                                1. Pre-Medical
                                  i usually circle the main ideas of sentences, then underline details. in the margins i write down what main ideas and details are important and ignore the other ones. i write down the stuff in the margins in my notebook. if its a library book, ill erase my pencil marks
                                   

                                  Narmerguy

                                  Full Member
                                  Moderator Emeritus
                                  10+ Year Member
                                  Jul 14, 2007
                                  6,874
                                  1,353
                                    I think a lot of times people are too inefficient with this stuff. I don't know how you survive with any time with all the writing and doodling, etc. My approach has been simply to read, and if at some point I feel like I'm not keeping up with the logic of what's being explained, I go back and read from where I last felt like I was completely up to speed.

                                    At the end, I do problems to see if I understood stuff. If I miss problems then I just read over that section again (and maybe for that stuff I'll jot down some bulleted notes but certainly not for the whole chapter! :scared:).
                                     

                                    MaenadsDance

                                    Full Member
                                    Jun 24, 2011
                                    482
                                    8
                                    California
                                    1. Pre-Medical
                                      @Narmerguy --

                                      My brother can read something once, and he understands it thoroughly. I have to read something three or four times to get as deep a level of understanding as he gets on the first go. Why? Because I read very rapidly, and he reads much more slowly. He processes everything as he reads, whereas I need a couple of go-throughs to get everything. It takes us about the same amount of time in the end, we just arrive there differently.
                                       

                                      Koosalagoosagoo

                                      Full Member
                                      Aug 26, 2011
                                      314
                                      2
                                      The Desert
                                      1. Pre-Medical
                                        I actually enjoy reading the campbell textbook, its not that bad and the author does a really good job of linking past chapters together. I read every chapter that was assigned even if the professor skips some stuff. If I dont understand something, I reread obviously. Something I have learned that helps immensely, if you have it is masteringbiology. If you go to the study area each section has practice test with about 30 multiple choice questions which help link what you read to what you should be tested on.
                                         

                                        PreMedOrDead

                                        I'm sure you'll get in...
                                        5+ Year Member
                                        May 19, 2012
                                        2,377
                                        271
                                        A dark, dark cave
                                          To be honest, reading the textbook is the worst way to understand theory and concepts. Depending on the type of study, practice makes perfect in most cases. Problem-heavy courses require problem repetition. Memorization-heavy courses require verbatim repetition. But if you must read, there is some good advice in this thread. Namely, look at the "scope" first, then get into the "nitty-gritty". This generally means read through the headings, then read the summaries, then read the text. And don't try to memorize every little detail, try to get the main ideas.

                                          But anyways, the former type of course is conceptual, and intellect goes a very far way in determining how easy these come to you. By doing problems, you develop the understanding necessary to tackle new problems presented. In the latter, memorization requires the ability to store contextualized information. The more you repeat over a long period of time (review once a day for days/weeks, rather than cram the night before a test) the better you brain gets at internalizing this information verbatim, and also makes it easier to store information in the future.

                                          I think there are some neurological studies on this somewhere, but I'm too lazy and tired to check.

                                          Well that's an interesting professor. Tell us your dirtiest!

                                          Medical students get... crafty.

                                          For example
                                           
                                          About the Ads
                                          This thread is more than 8 years old.

                                          Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

                                          1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
                                          2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                          3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                          4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
                                          5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
                                          6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                          7. This thread is locked.