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Mathematics Study Skills: Using a Mathematics Textbook

Using a Math Textbook



Math textbooks are unique because they use math language to communicate.  To be successful in a math course, students need to be ready to learn this language and how to use it to communicate effectively.  



Math textbooks differ from other textbooks in three ways:


1. Math texts present information in a very compact form.

For example, a graph of a function contains a great deal of information, such as function behaviour, x and y intercepts, maximum and minimum value of the function, and much more, depending on the function.


2. Math textbooks provide problem solving techniques and approaches.

The goal is to help students develop problem solving and critical thinking skills through examples, formulas and a variety of written and visual aides.


3. Every chapter in a math textbook contains purposefully designed practice exercises.

‚ÄčBecause learning math requires understanding underlying concepts and applying problem solving skills, practice exercise  help the learner develop understanding as well as problem solving techniques/skills and thinking.







 Preview the text before the class by skimming for broad ideas and familiarize yourself with the vocabulary. This      helps you get ready to listen to the teacher’s explanations 
Watch for italics, colour, boxes, and other methods that the author uses to catch your attention
Use the index when you want to find the meaning of a word that you don’t understand
 Always take notes as your read.  Reading math textbooks requires that you have a pencil and paper (and probably a calculator) to simplify the information by noting down only the key information, definitions, and formulas that you need to memorize.  Try to make these notes your own by using your own words, or examples from your own life.
Spend extra time reading and understanding diagrams and example problems to have a good idea of the type of problems that you will solve and the basic idea of the approach to solving them. Try some examples by yourself to examine your understanding.
Since practice is important, you should try one or more problems from each section and make a note of their differences
Write down the steps to solve each problem so you can follow the same steps when you work with similar problems
 Most math texts have chapter tests at the end of each chapter. Take at least some the test problems to test yourself before the exam.





This Libguide is the collaborative product of Learning Centre tutors and faculty at Douglas College, British Columbia.


Project Coordinator

 Mina Sedaghatjou



Handout Developer & Editor

Dana McKee