Reading, using certain methods, can help you gain a more in-depth understanding of the text you read. They can also improve retention so you can do much better in tests and enjoy a greater appreciation of the books you read. One approach, called PQ4R, is an acronym for Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite and Review. It has been shown to be helpful in aiding a student's retention and recall of the material they read (References 2 and 3).

How to Improve Reading Retention

Step 1

Preview the material you are going to read first. Read headings and subheadings as well as the first and last paragraphs of each chapter or section. Look at the associated pictures or graphs to gain a better understanding of what you will be reading (References 2 and 3).

Step 2

Question what you have read or consider any questions you may have about the material beforehand. For example, list two questions about the subject which may need further clarification. Also, list what you already know about the material and consider what knowledge you are hoping to acquire by reading it (References 1, 2 and 3).

Step 3

Read the material and highlight or notate certain points (References 2 and 3).

Step 4

Reflect on the passages or material you just completed reading. How do certain passages relate to one another? Does the information answer any questions you had or did it cover the subject to your satisfaction? What new ideas or facts were you able to garner from reading it (References 2 and 3)?

Step 5

Write down the major points of the material and Recite the notations to yourself or aloud to someone else. Discuss what you have learned.

Step 6

Review the key points and consider whether the points were adequately covered by the author and understood.