Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

How to Read A Collegiate Textbook: PAGES Method: Home

This simple technique is used for reading and understanding a collegiate textbook.


Many adult learners are asked to study textbooks or journal articles and be prepared to be tested on what they have learned. You will now have an opportunity to learn the most powerful strategy in the world for taking content from the written word and encoding it into your long-term memory. This strategy has been tested with hundreds of adult learners with exceptionally positive results.

PAGES is an acronym that will help you remember the steps in the process. Let’s suppose you are required to read and learn the content from a chapter in a textbook. Many students will start at the beginning of the chapter and read it like a piece of literature. This is not a good idea, and it usually does not take long for the brain to present questions like, “How am I going to remember all this?” or “How much of this do I need to remember?” or “How much of this will be on the test?” If you know PAGES, you do not have to worry about these questions. PAGES is based on the latest information about learning from neuroscience and cognitive science.







This is an essential step in preparing the brain to learn and in getting the big picture of what you are learning. You begin by looking at the graphics, which means you look at the pictures, diagrams, or charts, and read the captions. In many cases these pictures will be worth a thousand words in preparing the brain to learn the essential content of the chapter.

As soon as you finish with the graphics, read the titles and subtitles of the entire chapter or section you are required to learn. This will start your brain in the process of organizing the content. When finished with the titles and subtitles, read the introduction and the summary.  Using your finger – do a Super Scan of the entire chapter by running your finger under every word and all graphics.  Do the Super Scan quickly.

The final step of the preview process is perhaps the most important. Once you have looked at the graphics, read the titles and subtitles, read the introduction and summary, you create a content map from the titles and subtitles. You will be surprised how this step makes learning easier for you and helps you recall the content later. 


The ask step moves your brain into inquiry. If the author has questions in the chapter or at the end of the chapter, read these questions before you go any further in the process of learning the content. If the author does not present any questions, come up with a few of your own. Presenting the brain with questions actually changes brain chemistry and puts the brain in a searching mode, which is helpful for encoding memory.

Gather & Expand

Gather and expand are done together. Gather by reading and expand your content map started in the preview step. Read to add important details to your map, learning the content as you go. 


Study by using content maps, flashcards, Bedside & Wake-Up 5, or any other method.


Let’s review. Begin the preview process by looking and reading captions for all graphics. Then read the titles and subtitles for the entire chapter or section. Follow this with a reading of the introduction and the summary, and then create a content map using the titles and subtitles. Now look for author questions. If you find some, read the questions. Do not search for the answers; just expose your brain to the questions. If the author did not provide questions, come up with a couple of your own.

You are now ready to dig into the content of the chapter. Read section by section, piece by piece and add important details to your content map. Keep reviewing as you go. Use the techniques you learned for content mapping. Begin using the other strategies you learned to help form long-term memory.

Learners who have used the PAGES strategy report that it is one of the most valuable discoveries they have ever made about learning. If you put it to work, you will realize the power of this strategy. Approach it with a positive attitude and a determination to learn how it works (personal victory). Once you have used it even once you will discover how much easier it is to learn this way and you will always have it as part of your system (systemic victory).


Information was excerpted from the following:

Learner’s Edge:  What Every Adult Learner Should Know About Learning by John Parks Le Tellier