Previewing your reading assignment!

 So, your teacher has assigned chapter 20 in your science book. She said to read the entire chapter and answer the questions at the end. Of course, you have written this assignment in your planner. The due date is two days from today. You vow to not wait until the last minute to do this assignment. You need to understand this information in order to get a good grade on the test. This will help you to keep a decent average in science class.
But how can you make the most of this assignment? What steps should you take in order to get that good grade you need? Before you begin to read, you need to preview the assignment. Look it over to get an overall picture of what you need to do.

  • First, look in the table of contents to find the page on which the chapter starts. How long is the chapter? This will give you a clue as to how much time to devote to reading it. It may also signal you to break the chapter into more manageable chunks. Turn to the first page of the chapter in your textbook. Read the title of the chapter and any subtitles underneath it. This helps you to focus on the topic so that  you can zero in on the main ideas.


  •  Ask yourself, "What do I already know about this topic?" Connecting new learning to prior learning helps you to understand the concepts. If you don't know much about the topic, begin to formulate questions about it in your mind. This will help you to focus on the important information as you read to find the answers to your questions.

  • Next, quickly read over the first and last paragraphs. These might be labeled "introduction" and "summary." The introduction will lead you into the topic. If you had trouble connecting your prior learning, this paragraph may help you to do so. The summary should state the main ideas of the whole chapter. These are things you should look for more information about as you read. If the chapter is divided into sections,read the first and last paragraphs of each section.

  • Read over the headings and subheadings. Main headings may be written in boldface type, colored type, or ALL CAPITALS. These give you a better idea of the main ideas. Subheadings are usually written in italics or set in from the margin. Try to see the relationships between the concepts introduced by the headings and subheadings. This will also give you an idea of how the information is organized.

What is the purpose for this reading ?

  • The next thing you need to do is to turn to the questions you will need to answer for the assignment. Study them carefully. Are there vocabulary terms to define? Will you need to look for main ideas? Or will you need to analyze or evaluate the information in the text?

  • Getting an overview of the questions can help you to decide at what rate to read the information. As you read, you can flag answers to the questions in the chapter. If you are allowed to highlight, you can mark the information that way. Otherwise, you can write down the page numbers as you come across the answers to the questions.

  • Now, sample the text itself. Choose a paragraph. Read the first and last sentences of the paragraph. Scan for any important dates or terms. These may be in boldface or italic type. Quickly study the diagrams, pictures, and charts. These often help to clarify information in the text. Many people ignore these important tools, not realizing that they are meant to help the reader to better understand the concepts that have been introduced in the chapter.


  • This might seem like a lot to do before you even begin to read. But doing these simple steps can actually save you time in the long run. They will help you to set your mind on what you are studying. Doing these things will help you to know how much time you will need to devote to this assignment. That good grade you want will be on its way.