What is a good strategy for absorbing and retaining information from a giant textbook you are self-studying for a test?

Tip 1: Divide and conquer

With such a big textbook there is almost no way you will be able to even get close to finishing it when attempting to do it all at once. Just the menace of a seemingly never-ending amount of learning is enough to make most people run for the hills.

Instead of fighting the whole book at once, and trying to win the war with one go, fight small battles! Divide your time into smaller chunks and the learning will seem smaller as well. Focus on just the next 15–30 minutes of studying. Nothing more.

Anything that comes after that shouldn’t be of your concern. Just focus on what you can do right now. How will you get closer to winning the war right now? What is it you can do in the next 15–30 minutes that would help you understand the book?

Tip 2: Reward yourself

If you know what Operant Conditioning is you know how this will work, if you don’t, then you will benefit even more from this.

The basic trick we are using here is to train our brain to enjoy studying. In doing so we will undoubtedly study more and harder, because it is definitely fun! To do so all you need to do is add rewards at the end of your study sessions.

Not rewards like watching TV or playing video games, but something that fills you with immense amounts of joy! Something that makes you laugh out loud, smile, even cry! In doing so you will link the joy of that reward with learning and studying, causing you to desire to study.