How to Use the PQRST Study Method

by Sarah Adams

All study methods aren't created equally. Are you optimizing your own study efforts? If you're like most students, the answer is probably "no." However, there's no reason to settle for less than your best when it comes to adopting study habits that yield results. The PQRST method is a valuable technique for enhancing your study skills.

What is the PQRST Method?

Based on the work of Thomas and H. A. Robinson, Spache and Berg and R. P .Robinson, the PQRST Method is aimed at helping students assimilate the information learned in textbooks into long-term memory.

Breaking Down the PQRST Method

The PQRST Method comprises five simple steps:


Understanding the overall subject matter offers a valuable framework for what's to come. Begin by skimming through the chapter, starting with the introduction. Read headlines and section introductions, examine figures, and review the end-of-chapter summary.


After conducting the textbook preview, take a minute to consider the purpose of the chapter. What are your supposed to learn? The more your brain is primed for the subject at hand, the more accessible the material will be to you. Write your questions down for easy reference later.


It may seem contrary to common sense that the actual reading part of the PQRST method is the third step of the process. However, the two preceding steps are an important part of maximizing your reading time. Read slowly with the goal of absorbing meaning and connecting new materials with other ideas and topics. Feel free to underline and highlight as you go, but use restraint. Resist taking notes during this third step. Instead, read through the entire section, referring back to the questions you came up with during the previous step.


When you're doing read the chapter, it's time to reflect on the main ideas. If possible, repeat what you learned aloud to yourself as recitation has proven benefits for retention. This is also the time to summarize and take notes. The summation process can include everything from answering your questions, making lists of key concepts, and paraphrasing the main points into your own words. If you're unable to recall key concepts, revisit the chapter. Only after you thoroughly understand the material is it time to move on to the final PQRST step.


Now it's time to really see what you've learned. Review any notes, reread chapter summaries, and consider how it all fits together. Can you remember all of the main ideas of the chapter? Self-testing may involve a number of different methods, from using review questions to writing summaries to testing yourself with another student. Because most textbooks are organized the same way, the PQRST method is applicable to the the bulk of academic reading materials. The "Preview" and "Test," sections apply to the chapter at large, while the middle three steps are for use with each individual section within the chapter. While textbook reading can be tiresome, the PQRST method helps students remain active and engaged throughout the study process. The result? A more pleasant study experience... along with better learning outcomes.

Categories: Study Skills