Technical Reading

These tips can help you get a lot more out of your physics book with a lot less effort.

Remember, you own the book. It does not own you. It is there to help you.

Take charge of the situation, and know what you want to know before you ever start reading it.

How do you do this?

Most people don't know what they want to know yet, so that is what the first step is for.


SURVEY - scan the contents, introduction, examples, and summary of your chapter. Close the book and compare that set of information with your ideas about the world. Note where you agree with the information, where you disagree, where you are unsure, and what is totally new to you. This leads you to the next step.

QUESTION - Make a list of questions you want answered.

READ - Now read the text with the goal of getting answers to your questions. This is real progress you can bank on.

REFLECT - Note places where you now feel comfortable, and especially note places, some probably new, that you are still uncomfortable with.

REVIEW - Summarize your reflections. Update your question list. Reread sections of the text which deal with these questions.


HOMEWORK - Now it is time to try the homework. Use the homework to refine your question list.

TALK - Ask your questions in your study group and with your instructor.

More information can be found at