The PQRST method of reading
|This is a method of reading a textbook so that the information you read really does enter your long term memory. It is based on work by Thomas and H. A. Robinson, Spache and Berg and R. P .Robinson. Its sometimes cryptically known as SQ3R. This information is provided courtesy of Dr Yow Kin Choong from his copy of the book "Psychology" by Atkinson et. al.|
So what can it do?
The method has been shown to improve a readers understanding, and his/her ability to recall information. In other words, the reader is more likely to learn, and to learn more, of the material he/she is reading. If you use this method, reading won't be a waste of your time.
How does it work?
In this method you follow five steps - Preview, Question, Read, Self-recite and Test (PQRST). The middle three steps apply to every section within a chapter whilst the first and last steps apply to the chapter itself. You may find that many textbooks are compiled in a way which makes this method easy to apply, using an introductory passage, and questions at the end.
The diagram below illustrates the method:
What must I do?
Preview. First of all, preview the entire chapter - skim through it all so you know what you're going to be covering. One way to do this is read the chapter introduction, look at the headings, read the section introductions and check out the figures. Then read the summary at the end of the chapter (it usually tells you what you have learnt in that chapter).
Question. As you read through each section, start by asking yourself "what am I supposed to learn in this section". This helps to get your brain in to sync with the topic being discussed.
Read. At last, you can actually read that section. Do it carefully, think about the meaning and relate this to other things you know about this and similar topics. Do some underlining or highlighting of key words. Don't overdo it! If you want to take notes, read the whole section first, and then summarise it later.
Self-recitation. Once you have finished reading, think back about what were the main ideas you learnt. Try and recite some of this information aloud (unless you are on the MRT or in the library). Check back against the text, and note the things you missed out. Ensure that you didn't miss them out because you haven't learnt them. Only then go on to the next section and Question again.
Test. So now you have finished the chapter (or a major section if the chapter contains large dissimilar sections). Test yourself and review all the material. If you made notes, read through these. Think about the relevance of what you learnt and how it all fits together. Reread any chapter summaries. Even though you have only just read the chapter, now is the best time to test yourself.
Researchers have tested this method, and found it really does work. Self-recitation is particularly effective if done properly, as is the questioning step. After all, this makes sense because it is putting your brain into gear and warming it up before you start.