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How to Study

How To Study

How to study is something I revisit every once in a while. Why? It is the embarrassingly high rates of enrollment in remedial classes in even 4th string community colleges. Clearly the system is failing and more money will not fix it.

Why Should I Worry About How to Study?

“I Pass Everything,” you say.

The question of how to study is seldom asked before asking the question of why do I have to study, especially if you are under the age of 18. Again, especially if you are passing the tests and homework assignments.

Read This Frightening Note:

High school, as demonstrated by the previous mentioned high rates of remedial class enrollment, does not prepare your for college.

College, as demonstrated by the high rates of unemployment even amongst college graduates with honors, does not prepare you for the workplace as it exists now.

This is not your fault. The simple fact is that you and education have different goals.

But enough of telling you things you already know at some level. You came here to see if I could help you study, didn’t you?

SQR3: Still One of the Best Methods of Study

SQR3 is a method that has been around a long time. I cannot say for sure who invented it; I can only say I appreciate my abnormal psychology professor teaching it to me. Yes, I made a high A in his class, too.

SQR3 is an acronym that stands for the following:



R:Read (R1)

R:Recite (R2)

R:Review (R3)


Look over the materials you are asked to master. Take time to look at the chapter headings and any introductory paragraphs or notes present.  Take note of what is written in bold or in boxes off to the side. Check to see if there are summaries after each section or chapter. Look to see if there are any study questions after each section or chapter.

Read the captions under the pictures, graphs or any other inserts that may be present. Also, look for anything highlighted with a legend such as ‘important,’ ‘Did you know?’ or ‘will be on the test.’ Some places use a student book and an instructors manual that may include prepared tests. Many teachers will use those tests verbatim.


You have surveyed the chapter or chapters you need to master for now. Ask yourself what is it that the author is trying get across to you. What is it that he or she thought was important about this information? What is it the author wants you to know? Why is it important? Ask yourself why someone would bother to write about this subject. How can this knowledge benefit you in the future?


Read the material in its entirety. Yes, all of it. Throw your Cliff’s notes away. I had an English teacher who would read the Cliff’s notes specifically to design a test that could not be passed from the information contained in them.

Read the material, taking time to read everything that is boxed, highlighted or otherwise marked so as to bring the reader’s attention to it and ask yourself how it relates to the rest of the information in the main body.


Now that you have read it all, read it again. Only , this time do it out loud. This makes the information come to you by more sensory channels. Not only is it going through your eyes to your brain, but your brain is translating it to speech and again processing it as an auditory source of information all while you are again reading and relating the boxes and highlighted remarks.


Ask yourself what you learned. Did it stick? Did any part of it strike you as interesting? Did you learn something that helped you see something you came across in every day life differently?

Take the tests at the end of the chapters. How did you do? I bet you did better than you expected.


In closing, you will want to subdivide the material into 30 minute sections. Some folks can handle hour long sessions without a break. I like thirty because it makes for smaller, more easily digested chunks of information. I have also read studies saying a teaspoon of honey or a small amount of simple carbohydrates such as glucose is useful in helping your brain retain the information it is processing. Notice I said a spoonful, not a candy bar.

This method is applicable to everything from history to math to English. Some classes are aimed more at information mastery while others are aimed at application. This method helps with information mastery, even in mathematics. The application of the information is like anything else. I found that doing my homework in mathematics two, or even three, times was key to a higher test grade and long term retention.

Hope this helps.

Tim Singleton


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