Usually, older students don’t read a text properly, but immediately try to reproduce its form mechanically, giving the feeling that they want to finish as quickly as possible – in other words, they read for the sake of reading. Actually, reading implies concentrating your personal resources in learning and retaining data, making connections and using techniques, aiming to master new knowledge. Most teachers agree that there is a relation between the students who can’t read appropriately and those who fail; therefore, if students lack healthy reading habits, it’s important to start acquiring them.
In the following, we will present a method proven to be efficient for reading comprehension. This method was developed by Thomas Staton, who named it PQRST (preview, question, read, state and test).
STEPS IN READING – PRACTICAL EXERCISES
1. Preview – consists in superficially glancing through the material you need to read, localizing the essential aspects or ideas of the text, taking a look at the index, the introduction, the headers, the graphics and the abstract. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to revise a chapter. This helps you form an idea about what you are going to read.
2. Question – implies asking yourself – and answering – questions regarding the text before starting to read, so that later you can compare your answers to those offered by the author. This way, you are practicing your imagination and critical thinking. Some of these questions could be: What do the titles and headers suggest? What do I know about this topic? What am I interested in? What does the author want to say? What do I need to know after I have finished reading?
3. Read – after formulating and answering your own questions, you’ll find that the text seems more familiar and easier to understand. This is the moment when you actually start reading, always careful about the intonation, punctuation and spelling of the terms. Pay attention to the words, phrases and sentences that the author stresses out, and mark the relevant information using a yellow highlighter or by underlining it – do this after having read a paragraph, not while you are reading it. It is also advisable to write notes on the margins of the text, but only if the book is your own. If you don’t understand the meaning of a word, look it up in the dictionary. It’s good to make synoptic charts and summaries, formulate questions and conclusions.
4. State – this implies closing the book and presenting, with your own words, what the author said, so that you can see how much you understood and what you need to read again. Studies show that if you repeat a piece of information after having read it, you’re more likely to remember it, provided you clearly understood what you have read.
5. Test – consists in studying in advance, to avoid an exaggerated influx of information and the pressure of the exams. It’s useful to review the contents of the text you have studied, in order to consolidate learning and self-documentation. Also, seek to expand your knowledge.