SQ4R Study Method - Study Smarter Not Harder

Calling all grad students, college students, fervent learners, or anyone forced to do large amounts of reading! I feel your pain. Your time is valuable so learning how to get the most amount of information from a book in the least amount of time is paramount to your success. Let me help you learn How to Study by teaching you to read your textbooks like blogs posts. It's a lot simpler than you think.

I am currently in a very text heavy semester of grad school. I remember sitting through undergrad courses that would teach you how to be a college student, which were both boring and sort of insulting. However, now that I'm buried under accounting text, I need to rethink how I approach it since I've never had to worry about my reading time before. So I need to work smarter, not harder. To do that, I've started to use the SQ4R method.

What is the SQ4R Method?

Chances are you just used it to start reading this post without even thinking about it. We have trained ourselves without help to read blog posts this way. The idea is to arm yourself with knowledge before you even start reading so you can direct yourself to the biggest points and walk away with know-how in less time.  Here are the components of the method.

S stands for Survey

Review the text for the purpose of what you're reading and to review the main points the author is trying to make. Skim the main topics in the back of a chapter, a synopsis of a book, and don't forget the chapter or paragraph headings. Blog posts are named up front and generally have a starting paragraph that explains what it will discuss along with paragraph headings.

Q stands for Question

By reviewing, you are able to form questions about what you are going to read. We're reviewing the SQ4R method now and you can see that I've spelled out what it means for you. A question you may have while you read is how well does it work and how can I use this for myself? Dollars to donuts I've read a million blog posts about the same topic, so I'm looking for something I don't already know. Now use the same thinking to get through text.

What are the 4 R's?

Read (1) the material actively to search for the answers to your questions.
Write (2) your own summary of these with the answers.
Recite (3) it to yourself like you're explaining it to someone else.
Review (4) the material at least once in the next few days.

How can I use this? 

The answer is obvious if you are in school. However, most of us have to learn new skills for our jobs or take a certain number of hours to keep or obtain our certifications in our fields. After a long day at work, do you really want to spend the rest of your night studying? Neither do I. This method is one way to get you there faster with useful notes that will keep you from re-reading everything you didn't pay attention to the first time around. For more helpful techniques that apply beyond school, I recommend How to Study - a very highly reviewed book that has stood the test of time. Now that I need a better way to think through school, it's come in handy. Pick up a copy for yourself or for the learner in your life.

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