PQ4R: How to Read a Book for Comprehension

PQ4R: How to Read a Book for Comprehension

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The contemporary process of education is unthinkable without a deep understanding of written sources, as well as the self-study of specialized literature by students. Scientific texts are the basis for acquiring and expanding students’ knowledge. Textbooks, research papers, and articles are used by students to study, research, and practice. Therefore, students should be able to read them carefully, understand them deeply, and work critically with them. For this, the PQ4R method was introduced, which is a crucial tool for students to master new knowledge.

When it comes to learning, a systematic approach is relevant. The PQ4R method is an acronym that captures six stages of working with texts, namely Preview, Question, and 4 R’s (Read, Reflect, Recite, and Review). This strategy is used to make it easier for students to read, understand, and remember information from written sources. A particular focus of the method is on the ability to read carefully, develop an individual reading style, generate questions, and also challenge the provisions stated in scientific papers.

The learning process shows that superficial and cursory reading is not enough. Students face the need to learn a huge amount of information on several subjects at the same time. Under the conditions of time pressure, many students just leaf and flip through textbooks or use files taken from the Internet. The PQ4R method, which is suitable for different types of learners, offers them a valuable strategy for the in-depth study of written materials, as well as for the improvement of their understanding and long-term memorization.

The PQ4R method is an effective learning formula based on active reading. It helps students focus and control the process of learning from written sources. This method improves memorization and helps understand educational materials better. It enhances students' ability to think more deeply about the content of scientific books and articles, as it provides a structured and streamlined processing of written information. The PQ4R technique is a 6-step process that is presented in sequential order. These steps are explained below.


This stage implies an introduction to the reading process. First, you are recommended to skim through the material to learn about the main points and understand the general idea of this book or article. Read the headings and subheadings as they usually give a general idea of the book content. After reading the first and last paragraphs, you will surely understand what this book is about. Also, take a few minutes to look at illustrations, charts, graphs, etc. Using a piece of paper or notebook, summarize in your own words the thoughts that came to your mind.


Now, you have general information about this scientific work. Think about what you already knew about the ideas you came across during the preview. Ask yourself questions about this scientific work. A good rule of thumb is to start with the basic questions, such as who? what? where? and how? Also, consider what are the main questions raised in this scientific work and what you expect to learn by reading this material. In this way, you set the goals for the study of this scientific work. Write down your questions and remarks on a piece of paper or in a notebook.


Go back to the text and read it carefully section by section. Make sure you have a good understanding of each book part since it is usually based on the material previously presented. Focus on the details and try to find the answers to the questions you have written down. This stage of careful reading is essential as it allows you to learn how to process information. Instead of passively reading study material, you need to learn to read actively, writing down key ideas on paper or in a notebook. Try to answer the questions you formulated earlier.


When you have finished reading, put the book down and think about what you have read. Link the ideas for the book to the knowledge you have gained earlier. Ask yourself the following questions: What new information did you learn? Have you found answers to all your questions? How can you apply the ideas you have learned from this work? Is there any information that surprised you? You may find some inconsistencies or inaccuracies. Make notes about them. By reflecting and asking questions, you can improve your critical thinking skills. Link the information you learned to real events or practices.


You can discuss the material you have read with your friends or mates. Discuss the thoughts you have and try to answer each other's questions. The practice of group teaching would be very helpful. You may offer an idea that others may not have grasped. This can lead to a group discussion or even a dispute. If you are alone, you can imagine that you are discussing this book in class. Read your notes aloud to yourself and try to develop some ideas. Try using graphs or flashcards to get a better idea of how the statements from the book relate to each other.


This is the last stage of the PQ4R method. Review the material carefully and focus on asking yourself follow-up questions. Do you fully understand the author's thoughts? What examples support these ideas? Have you found answers to all your questions? If you are not sure about the answers, re-read the relevant places in the book. On the one hand, repetition reinforces the acquired knowledge, and on the other hand, the repetition of material strengthens your memory. Now, you can put this book aside and remember the main points outlined in it. Later, try to recall the facts you have learned. In this way, you can remember the material you have read for a long time.

Final Thoughts

Reading educational literature is an integral part of studying. However, if you read passively, you will get little benefit. It is namely active reading with questions and a subsequent discussion of the material that is the basis of the PQ4R method. This method can help students realize their learning potential. By using this practice, you will be able to move on to matters of a higher order and get the most from your learning experience. On the Readlax platform, you can find other methods and techniques to improve your memory and make your study more effective.



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