PQR4: The Effective Reading Method

Use the following method to study for your exams: Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review (PQ4R)

Preview: Review the Exam Content Guide, located on the Excelsior College Downloadable Documents Page, to become familiar with the structure of the exam and the resources needed. In the textbooks, review the chapter title, introduction, learning objectives, summary, and end of chapter questions.

Look for vocabulary words. Review boldface headings and subheadings, graphs, charts, italicized information.

Question: Turn the headings and subheadings into questions so that you can formulate answers as you read the chapter. Also turn the items as listed in the Excelsior College Exam Content Guides into questions.

Read: Organize your plan by the Content Guide.

  • Read for theory base knowledge and nursing application.
  • Read looking for the answers to the questions you identified.
  • Read slowly, taking notes.

Reflect: Stop periodically as you are reading to reflect and think about what it is you read and how it relates to what you already know. Organize the information so that it is meaningful to you.
If you are working with patients, try to incorporate what you are studying into practice.

Recite: Read it aloud to yourself so that you hear it; this allows you to take in the same information through a different sense. Speak key terms and concepts into a tape recorder so that you can play it while you drive, work out, etc.

Review: At the end of your session, review concepts and terms learned. Associate what you have just learned with what you already know. Link new concepts with prior ones. Begin next study session with a review of the previous study session.

Summarize what you have read and learned. Review information without looking at your notes, by writing on paper, reciting aloud or into a recorder. The day after you write your notes, review the information to move it into long-term memory.

Note-taking tips:

  • Label: Phrases and key words, not full sentences.
  • Organize: According to the content guide; use an outline format and abbreviations to take notes; focus on concepts as listed in the content guides.
  • Active strategies: Make use of index cards, lesson plans, poems, acronyms, drawings, mnemonics, tape recorders; create clinical cases, answer questions in workbooks, at end of chapters.