Try using the “SQ4R” reading system for reading your textbooks:
Survey: Scan the chapter to get a general idea of the contents. Read the introduction, main headings, and any summary or questions at the end of the chapter. Also look at any pictures or graphs.
Question: Turn the section headings into questions. For example, if the heading in a history textbook is “The Roots of the Reformation,” turn it into a question by asking “What does the author say caused the Reformation? How many causes were there and why did it happen at that particular time in history?” It also helps if you write the questions down.
Read: Read just one section at a time and attempt to answer the questions in your mind as you read.
Recite: Look away from your reading and attempt to answer the questions aloud. If you cannot answer the questions, read the section again.
Record: Take notes on what you’ve read, organizing key concepts under each heading. Write down concepts, not complete sentences.
Review: As you finish taking notes on each section, go back and review your notes. Once you’ve completed each of the sections, review the entire chapter. When studying for a test, review the material using your notes rather than the textbook itself.
Repeat the last four steps — read, record, recite, and review for each section of the chapter.