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A few, basic study handles and you get more back for the study time spent.

If you are to study, why not seek to get the most out of the time you spend on it? Many improve their comprehension, retention of the material, and their grades by a sound study strategy. Here are three or four well-known ones brought together into one, since they have common features. The four are PQRST, SQ3R, SQ4R and O TAKG-SPIR, which is the most comprehensive of them. The stages in it are endorsed by Tony Buzan, originator of mind maps, by another name. The names in capital letters are acronyms, which often help learning once you learn what all the letters stand for.

Sound and fair education tends to counteract racism, narrowed mentality and some effects of sectarian upbringing. Good learning helps young and old ones further. It comes by stages, as hinted at in Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy of learning, which is much worth, because it reveals there are stages of learning. Allied with that overview you can adjust to higher levels of learning in time, if you care. And why shouldn't you?

O TAKG-SPIR and PQRST are acronyms for two study methods that actually are excellent helpers for learning. The acronyms will be explained below. Also, regular calm observation can help in many walks of life. It can be trained and schooled, and probably refined too. Very much Buddhist meditation revolves around observing things, actually. There may be many important lessons to be learnt by careful observation over time, and also meditation methods of Tantra aim at it.

O TAKG-SPIR was devised by Tony Buzan, who is known for mind mapping and comprehensive study methods. PQRST with variants stems from Francis P. Robinson's SQ3R, and is used for text study too.

Interests, overlearning, and repetitions count too

It often shows up that delving deep within (meditating) for answers is at times not quite enough . . . But deep meditation along with studies is fine. And contemplating aptly on sceneries, animals and pictures should not be counteracted, for they may enrichen and enliven us. Such approaches form part of certain forms of study, such as architecture.

No matter who or what you study and learn from, it may not be good enough to find some important message or three either. For you should bring what you've learnt into the light of day so that you can benefit - and breathe more freely in time. Study methods offer helps to this end. Apart from (1) building on genuine interests, one is (2) a bit overlearning, and (3) still another is sensibly spaced out repetitions to counteract blatant forgetting (memory losses).

Good learning helps excellence. However, much education is pressed onto young ones, and they may get a gloomy outlook on learning much ever since, because learning was turned into something compulsive surrounded by grades and nervousness for exams and so on. As Noam Chomsky put it,

Typically they [the students] come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. [sarcastically]

I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested.

You find the annotations on a Chomsky page.

But adequate learning discipline can be a good help. It is not as much outer-directed as adjusting to how learning grows and how what is learnt is recalled better. You have to allot time for these finer processes to get higher than the "donkey smart". And what is good in this learning terrain, needs to go against massive Unlust too. If you dislike school for many fit reasons, still try to combat disinterest in subjects by learning a bit about them, preferably out of school context. They you are not compelled by others and may get out of compulsive schooling less beleidigt, i.e., less scathed. Interests may be grown, and thus love of learning. Every little helps. By adjusting to one's basis of knowledge and the ways that good learning works and is grown, ways one may get less dull and slack. And if genuine interests are incorporated and brought to flourish, so much for the better.

Ideally, at least, you are not getting an education solely for the sake of the large society and its public schooling pawn. Try to rise to the occasion and surf on the wave by knowing how to study, so as to get more out of the experience than being washed over by waves and brines repeatedly. Some study on top of interests and thereby realise parts of themselves somewhat. It is an open-ended process.

One does well to consider much in the light of the potential of one's self. For "at the end of the day" the self is yourself. Good learning tends to the becoming of it. At any rate, it is possible and likely that you may grow to enjoy learning if you master the lovely "rules of the game". It pays to be smart. Good learning skills helps smartness on and up, and further. And as hinted at already, success as a learner depends in part on what you have been brought up to enjoy, and maybe more on human-adapted study skills such as the PQRST and SQ3R techniques of portioning out chapters of textbooks etc. (below). The acronyms represent basic way to increase the profit from time spent on learning. It is very good to know about them at least. And yes, with these serving-tools in your hands, academic learning may still be hard work.

O TAKG and SPIR(R), an easy survey

O Overview Cursory overview, browse
TAKG, the preparatory part
T Time Determine how much time is needed in all and portion out learning sessions. Try to stipulate it well beforehand
A Amount Determine how much text you have to go through and portion it out into good learning sessions. T and A must work together.
K Knowledge Bring it in, activate or adjoin previous knowledge to task at hand. Draw on previous associations (learning)
G Gains Go for gains. Guess the value. Pose questions. Thus, activate yourself for "the real thing" (below):
SPIR, serious study
S Survey Use standard methods (see below)
P Preview Scan the text (portion) you're working with.
I Inview Read closely and try to think along with it.
R Review Sum up things.
(R) (Relate) Relate "new to old" somehow. See the note below.


To relate knowledge signifies, first, relating it inwardly, for example to former experience, to close ones, and further. We relate inwardly by associative thinking (mulling over things) perhaps to find and see other sides to events, or how to go for possibly intrinsic and rewarding relationships. A good way to bring learnt items into the Long-Term Memory (LTM) is by decent rehearsals. A rewarding way of doing it is here: [Rehearsals].

Second, we relate outwardly by applying the learnt stuff with care in relaxed ways, favourable ways, and can eventually establish richer outer associations (connections). This is had by well applied knowledge to promote proficiency (skills). Things we master with proficiency or skills, should next "settle" as know-how that we may or may not get established by in time "if things are good". The outwardly applied 'relating' may be of mastery pertaining to talk, of judicious work, or both.

The word 'relate' can mean many things, including recite and rehearse. 'rehearse, recite, describe, recount, tell orally or in writing, narrate, report, detail, link, connect, correlate, unite, apply'. To apply what is learnt is a crucial factor. It may take on inward forms through mental associations and clues; bring about language skills; knowledge of relating with others, and other forms of hard-won know-how.

The last R (for relate) has been put into the SPIR(R) above by me. Now, perhaps we should bring SPIR(R) together with PQRST, SQ3R, and SQ4R and unify all of them in one cogent scheme, for there are only small differences between them.

SPIR, PQRST and SQ3R brought together

Good study methods are rather compatible:

S Survey - the standard method P or S Peruse. Survey
P Preview, scan Q Question
I Inview, read closely R Read
R Review - sum up (use mind maps) S or R Survey. Review
(R) (Relate) T or R Test, self-test. Recite (and relate)

The one feature that makes SQ4R differ from SQ3R, is "Relate". The order of all the elements of "recite and relate" is not fixed, but it stands to reason to learn a thing before discussing it (relating) - so I suggest the order as given. Now, there are some other small differences and nuances that are not seen on the surface. I would stick to SPIR(R), as it's part of far better integrated techniques that include the initial TAKQthings too.

These methods are not as mechanical as it may seem. And we can get valuable help from using a learning system.

Did you know that outcomes of American studies suggest that as much as 80% of the text study time is best used on memorisation? (Cf Aktinson 1987: appendix, Robinson 1962, 1971 etc.) Idea maps should help us see essential and connections between key parts far easier, and review a lot more easily. The reason: key words are like memory pegs, and each memory keg you establish may trigger or ease access to related material you have learnt. Apart from that, you may see that SPIR (PQRST) - is good help for reading and studying with skill.

Interest is normally fine too. It helps a lot in sound surroundings and among friends, for example.

How to survey

SURVEY, PERUSE - gather and formulate interesting goals.

  1. Read title to get an inkling.
  2. Read the introduction and/or summary - focus on the most important points.
  3. Notice the boldface headings and subheadings to organise and 'pattern' your dear mind somewhat before you begin to read
  4. Check graphics - charts, maps, diagrams - you should not miss them.
  5. Notice the reading aids - italics, bold face print, chapter objective, end-of-chapter questions - are all included to help you sort, comprehend, and remember.
Based on primer at the University of Virginia:

Get a timer for better learning outcomes

To combat forgetting, learn how it works. The curve of forgetting is there to tap. It shows very easily how repetitions may be meted out over weeks and a few months to recall more from learning material.

The second thing is to get an interval timer to mete out your private study sessions in ways that go well along with how memory tends to work. A likable timer for this work may have one setting for the study session and one for the pause, and automatically repeats the sequence you set. It works like a school bell, if you have heard one of those. (Is there an interval timer at that suits you as well as Gymboss?)

Your interval timer helps you get into a study rhytm that metes out short sessions for study and much shorter time for rest. This should give more learning per hour that long sessions.

Short learning sessions and frequent pauses help recall and learning

So try to make your own learning sessions shorter than thirty minutes each - it is for the sake of getting better allied with how memory works: A much interesting thing is that you may well understand a lecture that goes on for hours, but how much you remember (recall) from lectures is much according to this: "The longer the lecture, the less is recalled" per minute of the time spent on it.

This being so, one may gain more from short learning sessions than long ones, and understanding the material is not a good key to learning it. Recall is. It is OK to adapt your main study strategy to what yields the most per time spent on learning. Something like 20-30 minutes per sessions may suit many. It depends on age and other things. The older an adult is, the shorter the periods ought to be, for the most benefit.

Frequent pauses between learning sessions are for integrating learnt material with what is already in the mind. Learning ought to be recognised as hard work, as it may tax one's id (libido), and rest helps restore that. Periods of rest can be long, like a night's sleep, and they can be short, like ten minutes.


Unifying study approach, how to study, Helpful Study Strategies, Study Skill, study aids, study support, study methods, SQ3R, PQRST, study ways, Literature  

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Buzan, Tony. Buzan's Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading and More! Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2011.

Buzan, Tony. Make the Most of Your Mind. Rev. ed. London: Pan, 1988 (latest edition so far: 2000).

Buzan, Tony. The Memory Book: How to Remember Anything You Want. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2010.

Buzan, Tony, and Barry Buzan. The Mind Map Book: Unlock Your Creativity, Boost Your memory, Change Your Life. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. The Speed Reading Book: Read More, Learn More, Achieve More. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. Use Your Head. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2010.

Fry, Ron. How to Study. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Course Technology/Cengage Learning, 2012.

Gross, Ronald. Peak Learning: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. Rev. ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.

Gross, Ronald. Socrates' Way: Seven Master Keys to Using Your Mind to the Utmost. Rev. ed. New York: J. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002.

Hansen, Randall S., and Katherine Hansen. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills. New York: Alpha Books, 2008.

Malone, Samuel A. Mind Skills for Managers. Aldershot: Gowers, 1997.

Nast, Jamie. Idea Mapping: How to Access Your Hidden Brain Power, Learn Faster, Remember More, and Achieve Success in Business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2006.

Price, Geraldine, and Pat Maier. Effective Study Skills. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education, 2007.

Robinson, Francis P. Effective Reading. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.

Walsh, Frank. The Regis Study Skills Guide. Updated by Chris Reisig. 5th ed. New York: International Debate Education Association, 2008.

Wilson, Elizabeth, and Dorothy Bedford. Study Skills for Part-Time Students. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education, 2009.

Wood, Gail. How to Study: Use Your Personal Learning Style to Help You Succeed When It Counts. 2nd ed. New York: LearningExpress, 2000.

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