Studying is an integral feature of learning. Myriad strategies are available for making the act of studying academic textbooks more effective than simply opening the volume and reading the next chapter. PQ3R is a streamlined study method that aids the learner in subject matter mastery, and facilitates generalization of new-knowledge-gained into real-world settings. PQ3R is an acronym for Preview, Questions, Read, Recite, and Review.
Previewing is all about understanding the big picture of what the chapter will be covering before diving into detailed pages. Garner big picture information by reading in the following order; chapter title, introduction, subheadings, and the first sentence of each paragraph. Take time to peruse illustrations. Finally, read the chapter summary.
As the reader previews the text chapter, she should be aware of questions generated by major topic sections and subheadings. Record these questions, and keep them in mind when engaging in the next step, a thorough reading of the chapter. A list of custom-created questions helps the reader to become an active participant in the learning process.
Now read the entire chapter. Previewing and question-gathering should help the reader to find the detailed information more meaningful and easier to understand. Pay attention to any highlighted or bold type in the text. Invest time in taking a second look at all graphs, charts and illustrations and reading their captions. Reread any sections that are at first unclear.
Answer the questions recorded after previewing the chapter. The reader’s self-check of personal understanding and absorption of the information presented in the chapter is revealed in her ability to correctly and clearly answer not only the questions generated by the preview of the chapter, but in any formal chapter review questions, as provided in the body of the text.
A day or two after completing the steps, the reader should try a self-test; can she clearly summarize the major points of the chapter? Can she answer both the personally generated questions and the chapter questions with relative ease? Does the reader feel confident that she could discuss chapter content with an instructor or other student and prove understanding? Yes, yes and yes? Then PQ3R has worked.
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