PQ4R: A Technique from Richard Restak’s Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance, (Riverhead Books, 2009), 108.
Preview – Skim through a chapter of material, noting the headings, vocabulary words, and concepts.
Formulate Questions – Ask questions about the material you have read.
Read – Read the passage looking for answers to the questions you’ve asked.
Reflect – Think about what you’ve read and how to apply it as well as its relationship to the subject at hand and its relationship to other subjects.
Recite – Repeat the material from memory after you’ve learned it. Do this with the text book closed, and only open it to check your accuracy. Put it in the exact language of the text as well as in your own words.
Review – Try to recall and summarize the same points.
Restak’s system is helpful, but it is slightly disorganized. For instance, how can you know what questions to ask about the material until you’ve read it more carefully? I think that Preview, Read, and Formulate Questions should be somehow in the same step.
His method is very similar to the Lecture to the Wall method outlined in “The Overnight Student” by Michael Jones which can be found here. The whole book is wonderful, you should print it out and read it.
Jones recommends doing things this way:
- Take a bite – Read a manageable portion of your source material.
- Use Your Tongue – Explain what you’ve just read out loud to an imaginary audience. Take note of everything that you cannot explain. You do not understand those things.
- Reread – Read your source material again asking yourself consciously, “what does this mean, how can I explain this to an audience, to what does it relate?”
- Repeat steps two and three until you have mastered the material.