The 6 Steps of the PQ4R Study Method Explained & How it Will Help You Tackle Your Firefighter Promotional Exam Textbooks

When you start working on your firefighter promotional exam prep and start cracking those textbooks open you want to be sure you fully understand what you are reading. The PQ4R study method is designed to help you read a book for full comprehension, exactly what firefighters looking to promote need. 

  1. Preview

The first step of the PQ4R study method is to preview the chapter before you read. The best way to do this is to skim the chapter. You can do this by reading the headings of each section, looking at words that are highlighted or in bold, and looking at the pictures and their captions. This will give you an idea of what you are going to be reading about before you start. 

  1. Question

After you preview the chapter, it is time to think about the information you saw by coming up with some questions about the information. Try to figure out what the main idea of the chapter will be by asking questions. Ask yourself what information you are already familiar with and what information is new to you. What observations can you make about the material you previewed, and what information do you think you will take away from the chapter after you read it? I recommend writing these questions down so you can go back in future steps and use them as a reference. 

  1. Read

After you preview the chapter and come up with some questions for yourself it is time to read the chapter. Don’t just read through the chapter, read with intention. Try to answer the questions you posed for yourself before you began reading. Make sure you are reading all of the text, including any subtext. You want to really focus and absorb as much of the information as you can as you read. 

  1. Reflect

After you read the chapter it is time to ask yourself what you learned. What information was new, what did you already know? Why is this material important, and how will this new information help you get promoted and pass your firefighter promotional exam? You want to reflect on the importance of the material and relate it to information you already have. Once you finish multiple chapters be sure to ask yourself how the chapters are all connected and relate to each other. 

  1. Recite

After you have reflected upon the material it is time to recite it. This means say it outloud. You can do this by answering your questions out loud that you had before reading. You don’t have to do this part alone, if you have a study group this is a great opportunity to study with them by taking turns reciting the material amongst your group. You may even come up with other questions after studying with others. 

  1. Review

Once you have completed the five previous steps it is time for the final step, review. What this means is go back and review the chapter as whole. If you have more questions after reading the chapter the first time, try to find the answers. Don’t just review it once though, it is crucial you go back periodically and review the material until you have the information down. 

The Takeaway

The PQ4R study method is a great starting point for firefighters looking to pass their promotional exam. The PQ4R study method may feel like a lot of steps just to read a textbook, but using this method will help you understand and retain the information much better than just reading the text by itself.