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How to Use the PQRST Method to Study Effectively


The PQRST method is a method of reading something such that the information being read gets retained in the reader’s long-term memory. The PQRST method is an abbreviation for ‘Preview, Question, Read, Summary, and Test’. These are the 5 steps that will be employed in this method as a means of reading the textbook.

How to Use the PQRST Method

The PQRST method is based on the work done by Thomas and H. A. Robinson, Spache and Berg, and R. P. There are 5 steps toward using the PQRST method so that it is effective, and if followed in order, it can work wonders. Here’s the breakdown of the entire method:


Check the table of contents. To get accustomed to the material that is to be studied, check out the table of contents of the syllabus, textbook, or course and note how the content is divided, and what the main topics are. Note how ideas need to be mapped out, and what concepts have more sub-topics devoted to them. Read the headings, summaries, and main highlighted keywords to get a sense of what is being studied before beginning to read in-depth about it. Scan the course material for portions that contain text that briefs the learner on what it is that is to be studied beforehand. Summaries can include bolded keywords, chapter summaries, or topic headings. These parts need to offer a general idea of what the chapter or section will cover and frame further reading of the content. In some study materials, pictures, maps, or diagrams may serve the same purpose.


Break down subject headings into questions so that they can be answered once the learner has finished studying. Start using subject headings or subheadings to formulate questions. Generate questions on the basis of the preview done in the previous step. Write down any questions that may have come after the initial preview of the material to be studied. Include as few or as many questions on the basis of what was understood in the content. If the text includes study questions, add them to the list. Write questions on the basis of previous knowledge of the topic. Use the limited knowledge that is already present about a topic to frame questions. The questions should be geared toward clarifying the truth about the subject. As the study goes on, these questions will be answered, and misconceptions debunked.


One effective way would be reading in clusters. As they start to study, be mindful of what is being read rather than just keywords. This can be done by focusing on clusters of words while reading instead of just single words. This effort reduces the number of times the eyes stop while reading, and increases comprehension by making the learner read with greater intent. The learner must make sure to keep this up throughout the period of studying since cluster reading can increase the speed of reading. Highlighting important things can also be an effective way. Read paragraphs with the intent of highlighting the important points of each. Each paragraph in a text will have one main idea, or just supporting ideas. Highlight the main point of each paragraph so that they can be referred back to it easily without the requirement of just skimming through all of the content once again. Finally, the learner needs to evaluate their understanding. Choose an interval at which the learner stops reading and evaluates their understanding of the content they have just studied. Ask them if they are learning anything from the text and if they have absorbed all of the details that were being read. If necessary, read the text once again.


Write notes based on what is being read. The learner must write notes for themselves using the questions, the answers to them, and other pertinent content that struck their interest. Use the format of note-taking that suits the requirement best. If you understand things better in list form, for instance, make a list of the most notable battles during WWI when writing your history notes.

Record page numbers and references within your notes. While you write your notes, record the page numbers of the source material that you are referencing. Having this information will allow the learner to go back to the source easily when reviewing the notes. If any pertinent maps, pictures, charts, or other visual aids relate to part of the notes, write down the page numbers for those as well. Recite the notes in the mind or out loud. In addition to written notes, summarizing the content that has already been read is an excellent way to process and retain the information. Organize thoughts as if giving a lecture or oral presentation about the subject, and make the lesson as easily comprehensible as possible. By formulating the material that have been studied in the style of a presentation, the content needs to be made more engaging and understandable for themselves as well as to their imaginary audience.


Read and answer the list of questions that were written down. Answer the questions that had been compiled for themselves as comprehensively as they can manage to learn from the studying process. Do not consult the notes until after testing has been done. Note the questions that they had gotten wrong or did not answer and focus extra attention on the content related to them. Mnemonic devices are other excellent memory techniques that allow the brain to encode and retain information. Such study tricks are essentially shortcuts that allow the learner to recall things, such as in the form of acronyms, rhymes, songs, images, or other memorable devices. Create or use mnemonic devices for the content that the learner has more difficulty remembering when studying. Review learning material based on the sections that they struggle with when testing. Read the notes over and over again and, if necessary, rewrite notes for the content that they have trouble remembering to reinforce their understanding of it.


The PQRST method is quite similar to the SQ3R method, but changes with the abbreviation involved. The idea behind this exercise is to improve reading comprehension and speed and to enhance the critical thinking skills of the reader as well.

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Suggested Read - Critical Reading - Tips for Students

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