Simple Yet Effective Ways to Take Notes From a College Textbook

reading notebook

The ultimate goal of every study session is to derive good notes from an academic textbook, study the material and retain the details which come in handy during a test or exam. However, not all students have mastered the art of reading a textbook faster and taking good notes, regardless of academic level. This may be because teachers rarely teach the techniques. Also, most assume that the skill has been obtained.

While in college, a student will take a variety of classes. Each subject will come with its textbooks and reading material. Textbooks come in all types, from print to digital versions. While digital books have advantages, students reap several benefits by opting for the paper version. Recent research shows that students learn more and better from print books.

But to understand the book contents, all learners must have top-notch note-taking skills because, in all educational institutions, textbooks play a crucial role in academic success. So how do you revise well and take neat notes? Here are helpful guidelines on how to take good notes from a textbook.

Narrow Down Information

The use of textbooks is great for students. However, most college textbooks pack a lot of information and cover hundreds of pages. Every page contains crucial information, and if you are not careful, you might end up making common note-taking mistakes such as summarizing every paragraph or writing notes word for word. The strategy for effective note-taking is to summarize chapters to get the main concepts and narrow down the information. Use bulleted sentences to summarize.

Make Use of the Reading List

Teachers provide a reading list or the concepts covered during a lesson or at some point in the semester. By reviewing a reading list before the class or study session, you will take effective notes containing solid facts and key concepts. It also makes it easier to read a textbook because you will know what information that chapter will have; hence be on the lookout for ideas not understood properly.

Subject experts from an essay writing service will offer assistance when you need a good summary of the textbook for revision or compare with what you already have.

Avoid Passively Reading a Text

A passive reader rushes through the content, multitasks, and fails to absorb the text. This is the least effective way to learn a subject or study. By passively reading a textbook, a student won’t retain much information.

To ensure you take better notes, engage in active reading. This involves looking up vocabulary that you don’t understand the meaning, coming up with relevant questions, and reading other textbooks in a way that enhances retention and absorption.

The ideal strategy is to wait until you have completed reading several pages, after which start generating the summary notes and highlighting crucial details. Ensure the part highlighted showcases what that page or chapter covers.

Designate a Space for Notes

Part of good notes organization is dedicating a specific book for each subject or class. The text should be arranged in chapters, in order, and summarized to make it easier to skim through the text. When notes are organized as per each class, the faster it is to identify concepts you must reread.

Preview the Textbook

Previewing will prepare your mind for the reading task ahead, which helps increase focus and recall. When you have an idea of what you are reading, you are more likely to concentrate. Read the title, headings, subheadings, first sentence, and introduction when previewing.

Pay attention to the visual elements and vocabulary. By the end of the preview session, a student should know the matter under discussion and how it’s organized. Use a specific page designated in the notebook to jot down questions that popped up during the reading time, and after reading, ensure you can answer them without having to open the textbook.


While reviewing falls under the after reading and taking notes section, it’s crucial for effective note-taking. So after reading a chapter, test your mastery of the topic by identifying how many key concepts can be recalled. If you have a hard time remembering some areas, immediately review the textbook material—this aids in filling in the knowledge gap and boosts recall.

It also ensures that the learner has grasped basic concepts covered within the first few chapters before proceeding to advanced-level concepts. Read the summary under each main point and recall the supporting details to start the review process. Finally, recite the main points to ensure the text has been absorbed into long-term memory.

Written by Mia

Hey Everyone! This is Mia Shannon from Taxes. I'm 28 years old a professional blogger and writer. I've been blogging and writing for 10 years. Here I talk about various topics such as Fashion, Beauty, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, and Home Hacks, etc. Read my latest stories.

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