Outlining Textbook Chapters

Why did you enroll in the college or university you chose? Most people will answer that they did it to get a degree. This is certainly true, but why do you want that degree? The reason for earning your degree is generally to begin a career in your chosen field or profession. Starting this career path means you must have sufficient credentials to land a position in your desired industry. These days, a degree may not be enough to earn your job of choice. Companies look at your GPA (grade point average) and select the best students for their employment opportunities. The best way to ensure that you maintain an adequate or superior GPA to your contemporaries is to build strong study habits and stick with them. A good skill to have is outlining the chapters of your textbooks to gain a better understanding of the material.

What is Outlining?

The simplest definition of outlining is that it is a method which summarizes a document and brings the important points to light. When speaking of outlining textbooks, the process involves weeding out the fluff and unnecessary information to reach the meat of a chapter.

What Do I Need for This?

Outlining simply requires a textbook and a tool for recording information. You can create outlines in your notebook or on your computer's word processing program. The most important thing you require is your brain and the concentration to stay diligent in your outlining.

What Should I Take Note Of?

The answer to what to take note of cannot necessarily be the same for all instances, classes, or textbooks. The short answer to this question is to take note of whatever the professor says will be on your exam. Obviously, not all professors specifically state what will be on their tests, and there are grey areas regarding the information seen in textbooks.

Textbooks are quite simple to outline as they are already structured into an outline of sorts. Each chapter focuses on a particular topic and is usually subdivided into smaller aspects of the topic. Your outline should mimic this structure by using headings for the main ideas and then describing pieces of it under the headings. Most textbooks are structured in a certain way where important definitions are bolded, italicized, or manipulated in some way to make them stand out to the reader. These definitions should almost always be noted.

How Much Should I Do at a Time?

While outlining is a great study tool, it is possible to overdo it. Outlining too much of a textbook at one time may cause you to commit errors, miss important facts, or simply forget information due to the overload of knowledge. A good amount to shoot for when outlining is to outline one chapter per day.

Reviewing the Information

Outlining is only useful if you look over the outlines relatively often. The outlines replace your textbook as your study aid because they have all the useful information you need without the clutter of your textbook. Review your outlines once a week if you have no exams in the near future, and daily the week before an exam.


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