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How to Tackle a Difficult Textbook?

It is certainly not easy to be able to tackle difficult and dry material quickly. This fact has caused many students to straggle to build up sufficient amount of knowledge on computer programming, engineering, accounting, history, philosophy and others. People have been surprised by their inability to deal with these subjects quickly enough. There are steps that we should do to improve our comprehension and ability to tackle these difficult topics. First of all, you need to continuously bombard yourself with the relevant information. If you want to digest difficult learning material, it is better to work methodically and slowly, as long as you can guarantee progress. Always underline key things and you may need to re-read difficult paragraphs ten times or more, until you are finally able to understand them. Unfortunately, we often hate this method of learning.

Alternatively, you need to get through difficult learning material as soon as possible. If you don’t understand much, you should keep on reading. You need to push yourself until you are able to finish the entire textbook, regardless of whether you understand it or not. You can skip any quiz or exercise, you should just keep ploughing through. This method is useful when you have 1-2 hours to spare during weekend. It is quite likely that you will still have a general idea of what the textbook is all about. If you repeat this session three or four times, you will be able to absorb more of the concepts mentioned in the textbook. Finishing a 600-page in two hours may seem like an impossibility, but you can scan the pages and stop at paragraphs that are interesting to you. It is good idea to read definitions and basic explanations of important concepts in each chapter of the book.

Once you have identified key concepts, you should make them yours. You should try to identify core ideas on each chapter and skip the details. Before you repeat the fast-reading session again, you should look at the list again, so you will remember what you will encounter in the textbook. Instinctively, these core ideas will become more embedded in your mind and you may start to notice more details regarding to these core ideas. These core ideas are things that you absolutely need to memorize. They become the anchors of your comprehension of the book. The list of core ideas can become expanded to more details, so your understanding can become more comprehensive. Instead of concentrating on raw data, your first goal is to understand all the ideas and concepts. Make sure that your remember things that must be remembered definitely and absolutely.

Obviously, you can’t pass the exams by only understanding the core ideas. You need to make a plan to expand your understanding based on each core idea. The dull task of conquering a difficult, thick textbooks can be broken down into manageable chunks. Your investment in time and effort by repeatedly scanning the textbook should be paid off eventually.

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