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PQ4R Strategy


Like SQ3R, the PQ4R strategy (REFERENCE) is an individualized method for improving reading comprehension. This six-step process involves previewing, questioning, reading, reflecting, reciting, and reviewing. Besides adding the additional step, PQ4R requires that the text be read in its entirety before reflecting, rather than section by section as with SQ3R.

The PQ4R strategy has many of the same advantages as the more popular SQ3R. It is easy to use and can be applied to readings in most academic subjects. Students can use PQ4R on their own, without the intervention of a facilitator.

Because PQ4R is so similar to SQ3R, the steps are outlined briefly here. For more details, refer to the SQ3R section of this page.


The preview stage of PQ4R is essentially the same as the survey phase of SQ3R. To preview a reading, scan the title, section headings, and visual aids. Read the first and last paragraphs. This should give the reader a general idea of the purpose of the text and the major concepts to be covered. The information gleaned from the preview is used in the next step.


Again, the second phases of PQ4R and SQ3R are identical and involve predicting questions that may be answered in the text. Convert headings into questions or draw upon past experiences to form questions. Look for answers to the questions while reading in the next step.


Unlike SQ3R, the text is read in its entirety with the PQ4R strategy. Carefully read the complete text, recording notes in the margin or underlining important information that answers the predicted questions.


Information from the entire chapter or article is linked together in the reflection phase. The reader should attempt to develop insight into the topic and make associations among the important material noted while reading.


Recitation involves summarizing the main points and supporting details of the complete text. To involve more senses and improve understanding, say the summary aloud or write it down using an information organization tool like flowcharts and outlines.


The final review entails highlighting key points of the text. Make sure the predicted questions have been answered and that the author's purpose is fully understood.

SQ3R Strategy


Survey! Question! Read! Recite! Review!

Before you read, Survey
the chapter:

  • the title, headings, and subheadings
  • captions under pictures, charts, graphs or maps
  • review questions or teacher-made study guides
  • introductory and concluding paragraphs
  • summary

while you are surveying:

  • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions;
  • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading;
  • Ask yourself, "What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?"
  • Ask yourself, "What do I already know about this subject?"

When you begin to

  • Look for answers to the questions you first raised;
  • Answer questions at the beginning or end of chapters or study guides
  • Reread captions under pictures, graphs, etc.
  • Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases
  • Study graphic aids
  • Reduce your speed for difficult passages
  • Stop and reread parts which are not clear
  • Read only a section at a time and recite after each section

after you've read a section:

  • Orally ask yourself questions about what you have just read and/or summarize, in your own words, what you read
  • Take notes from the text but write the information in your own words
  • Underline/highlight important points you've just read
  • Use the method of recitation which best suits your particular learning style but remember, the more senses you use the more likely you are to remember what you read - i.e.,
  • TRIPLE STRENGTH LEARNING: Seeing, saying, hearing-
  • QUADRUPLE STRENGTH LEARNING: Seeing , saying , hearing, writing!!!

an ongoing process.

  • Day One
    • After you have read and recited the entire chapter, write questions for those points you have highlighted/underlined in the margins. If your method of recitation included note-taking in the left hand margins of your notebook, write questions for the notes you have taken.
  • Day Two
    • Page through the text and/or your notebook to re-acquaint yourself with the important points. Cover the right hand column of your text/note-book and orally ask yourself the questions in the left hand margins. Orally recite or write the answers from memory. Make "flash cards" for those questions which give you difficulty. Develop mnemonic devices for material which need to be memorized.
  • Days Three, Four and Five
    • Alternate between your flash cards and notes and test yourself (orally or in writing) on the questions you formulated. Make additional flash cards if necessary.
  • Weekend
    • Using the text and notebook, make a Table of Contents - list all the topics and sub-topics you need to know from the chapter. From the Table of Contents, make a Study Sheet/ Spatial Map. Recite the information orally and in your own words as you put the Study Sheet/Map together.
  • Now that you have consolidated all the information you need for that chapter, periodically review the Sheet/Map so that at test time you will not have to cram.

Do you have problems concentrating on your reading? Do you forget what you read the minute you finish? Following the five steps of SQ3R can help you to process and remember what you read!

S = Survey
Survey the piece of writing to establish its purpose (what is it trying to get across to the reader?) and to get the main ideas. Look at:

  • Titles
  • Pictures
  • Introduction and conclusion
  • Bold or italicized print
  • Questions
  • First and last sentences in paragraphs
  • Footnotes

Q = Question
As you are surveying the piece, a good way to decide what you will be reading for when you do read is to question as you survey. Writing down questions keeps you alert and focused on your work.

  • Divide a sheet of paper in half lengthwise.
  • On the left half, write questions as you are surveying the piece. For example:

  • The title may be "Skydiving in Five Easy Lessons". The question that you might write down is "What are the five lessons that a person must go through to learn how to skydive?"
  • An introductory sentence states that "a parachute is essential in learning to skydive." The question you would write down might be "Why is having a parachute really important when you're learning how to skydive?"
  • A heading for a section could state "How to Fall"; the question might be "Why is it important to know how to fall?" or "What are the specific ways that a person must fall when learning how to skydive?"

  • In addition to forming your own questions, look at any questions that may be posed by the author in sidebars or at the end of a section.
  • It is important that you write these questions in your own words, not simply the words of the author. This will help you process the information more deeply (i.e., you will be able to recall it with more ease).

R1 = Read
As you read, read to answer your questions, both in your mind and in writing on the right side of your "Question and Answer" paper. Since you have already selected the material (through your questions) that you know is important, you should be able to read selectively and separate out the "fluff" that is not as important.

Answer the question in your own words, not in the words of the author. This will enable you to understand and comprehend more fully because you will, in essence, be forcing yourself to "translate" the "gobbledygook" that you frequently encounter in writing, especially in textbooks.

R2 = Recite
After you have read and answered all of your questions, it is helpful to recite the questions and your answers. To do this, you should:

  • Recite each question out loud (one at a time).
  • Answer each question verbally according to the answer you have written down on the right side of the page.

R3 = Review

  • Using your notes, mentally go over the material within 24 hours of covering it.
  • Review again after one week.
  • Review approximately once a month until your exam.