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Textbook Guts

Make Studying Easier by Finding Your Way Around a Textbook


A lot of students just read the section of the textbook that they are assigned and then spend a lot of time searching for the answers to questions they must answer and worrying about what is going to be on the test. Save yourself the hassle! If you get a good idea about your textbook’s guts (or all the information inside) you’ll be able to read each section and find the answers you need quickly to help you prepare for tests, essays, and projects. Take a look at what you’ll find in most textbooks. Then, check to see if your textbook is similar.

Beginning of the textbook:

Table of Contents– This section lets you know what each chapter is about. You can use it to get an overview of the book’s layout and to find general sections of information.

Using Your Textbook- Not all textbooks have this section, but the ones that do let students have a better understanding of how the textbook is laid out. This part explains where you can find the important information that you need.

Each chapter in the textbook:

Objectives- These are the goals you should be working on while reading the chapter. Take them seriously; they’ll probably be on the test!

Vocabulary Words- Sometimes there’s a box that lets you know all the words in the chapter, other times the words will be in bold. When you find a vocabulary word, make sure you know what it means. There’s a good chance it will be on the test. If you aren’t sure of the meaning, you can always look it up in the glossary.

Study Questions- These questions are likely to be at the beginning or end of the chapter. They let you know what information you should focus on. Find these questions and write them down before you read the chapter. Then, when you read, try to find the answer. These, too, are likely to be on the test.

Chapter Review- Your book may have a helpful review section and the end of each chapter. This part is to remind students what information is important, give further explanation, or suggest activities to improve your skills.

End of the textbook:

Glossary- This section gives a definition for all of the vocabulary words that you need to know. You can look up words that are in bold here.

Index- Students love these pages because they tell where all the answers are! If you are looking for the answer to a question, look up the key words here. It will tell you what pages you can find information on.

Solutions / Answers- Yes, you heard right. Many textbooks have the answers right in the back. This is especially true of math books. This isn’t so you can cheat, but so that you can check your own work and improve. The book won’t have every answer, just enough to let you know how you’re doing.

Maps, Charts, Etc.- Depending on what type of textbook you have, there may be other information in the back. Maps and charts can help you understand and remember information. Be sure to check out what’s back there before you start working with a book.
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