There are two main ways you can study from books, namely the PQRST & SQ3R methods. Both of these methods of studying focus on the key information in books. Its unique approach is that it prioritises information using a method that directly relates to how you will be asked to use that information in an exam.
PQRST stands for:
P is for Preview
Look at the topic you need to learn by skimming over the main headings and points.
Q is for Question
Formulate questions that could be asked.
R is for Read
Re-read all the material, concentrating on the information that best relates to the questions you formulated in the previous step (Q is for Question).
S for the Summary
Summarise your topic in your own words. You could use any of the condensing and summarising methods we have already covered.
T is for Test
Using the questions you developed earlier answer each one in turn. Ensure you pick a whole range of questions and not just the ones that you find easy to answer!
The benefits of PQRST
The PQRST method ensures:
A second method you can use when studying from books is the SQ3R. This 5 step technique stands for:
S is for Survey
Start big and then go small – survey the whole book, then the chapters and finally the paragraphs. Also look at the titles, headings, and subheadings, picture captions, charts, graphs or maps, introductory and concluding paragraphs and any summaries. The aim of this is to get the general ‘gist’ of the material.
Q is for Question
By questioning the text you turn it from an passive activity to an active one. Ask yourself:
Try converting the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions. Examples of questions you could ask include:
R is for Read
After questioning you will be ready for the main activity of reading. This involves careful consideration of what the author is trying to convey and involves being critical as well as active.
R is for Recall
It doesn’t matter how interesting (or not!) the text is, you must make a concerted effort to recall what you read. Failure to do so will result in information being forgotten. Recalling also provides you with the opportunity to think about and assimilate what you have just read keeping the process active.
Ask yourself “can I recall all the key facts without re-reading the text”?
Try and answer questions about what you have read and/or try and summarise what you have read. This summary should be in your own words and you should consider highlighting key words and points. Also consider using a variety of senses in order to recite and recall. Seeing, hearing and saying is known as triple strength learning, whereas quadruple strength consists of; seeing, hearing, saying and writing.
R is for Review
The final step in the SQ3R method is to review the material that you have recalled in your notes. Ask yourself:
Double check you haven’t missed anything of importance. There is sometimes a temptation to ‘miss out’ pieces of information and associated questions that cover areas we do not enjoy or we find hard!
Below is a sample 7 day plan for using the SQ3R method that you might like to use. Remember it can be and indeed should be adapted for your own individual needs.
Days three, four and five
Alternate between your condensing method and notes and test yourself (orally or in writing) on the questions you formulated. Add additional condensed material if required.
Days six & seven
You will now have a summary of the whole book/module.