College Study Skills

Have you learned how to study for college? College study skills are different from what you did in high school.

Would it make sense to use the same reading method you learned in elementary school to do your college reading? Is a first grader expected to understand a college textbook?

NOPE!... Then why read that way?

I will be covering 4 different types of college study skills.

Since everyone has a different learning style, read through my brief description of each method and then try them. See which one works best for you and benefit from it!

Your results from trying each method will help you decide which study method is best for you. Or you might like a combination of them! That's fine too.

Different Methods for College Studying

The following study skills (we could even call them study strategies) are abbreviated by acronyms to help you remember them. I will explain each acronym.


I actually learned this method from Wikipedia. It is PQRST because it stands for Preview, Question, Read, Summary, and Test.

Nearly everyone of the college study skills on this page starts with a preview or survey of the written material. This is not reading in the traditional sense, but a brief overview.

You are perusing through the material for maybe 5 minutes to get the main ideas of what you are reading from the bolded titles and subtitles.

**The author of the Wikipedia article also suggests doing this with your course syllabus-- a great idea to get an overview of the semester's work!**

Then you start questioning. You ask questions about the topic you need answers to. This might feel a little unusual at first, but it engages your mind into active reading instead of passive reading.

Next, you actually read the passage or text. You are specifically reading for the answers to your questions.

The Summary step is after you finish reading. You summarize the topic in your own words. This can help you better understand the material because you come to your own conclusion about the topic.

The "T" is for test. You test your understanding by answering the questions that you formulated in the questioning portion.

You won't think of this 5 letter sequence in the alphabet the same way ever again!


This is another of the college study skills that I found on Wikipedia. The creator of SQ3R is Francis Pleasant Robinson, and is in his book Effective Study.

SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.

The survey is the same as the preview step in the PQRST college study method. You are glancing through the text or reading selection looking at titles, sub-titles, bolded text, key terms, pictures, graphs, and other important items.

Remember, you aren't actually reading at this part of the study skill. You are briefly perusing the text for an overview of what the text is about. This gives you a mental outline of what you are about to read.

Question means that you formulate questions that you need to answer. This ties into the survey step. As you survey, you can ask questions about anything you don't understand.

Read is exactly what you think it is. Read the material. Remember, you are reading to answer the questions, so you might not actually read the section beginning to end.

Recite is where you check your understanding. You answer the questions you formed in the "question" section. Try to answer out loud and in your own words.

Review is the last step in this college study method. You use review materials (this could be something your teacher gave you, or questions at the end of the chapter) to give a final test of your comprehension of the material.

Or better yet, you could think of possible test questions on your own and then answer them.


I found this college study skill in a book called Write for College. It is a fantastic resource for anything to do with college writing. The publisher is a company called The Write Source.

PQ4R stands for Preview, Question, Read, Recite, Review, and Review again.

This study method follows the same sequence as the others, but it adds one more review of the material in the process. The extra review is a great idea because comprehension seems to come in layers.

The more exposure and experience we have with a subject, the more familiar we become with the subject.

KWL Table

The last of the college study skills I will cover on this page is a KWL Table. I found this study skill at Wikipedia while researching the other study skills.

It was originally created by Donna Ogle.

KWL stands for Know, referring to what you already know about the subject at hand. Want, referring to what you want to understand about the subject. Learned, referring to what you learned during your study about the topic.

You can draw the table in three columns. At the top of each column you list a letter. Then you fill out the space below each letter as instructed above.

Here is an example of what your table might look like:

College study skills

You can see another example of a KWL Table at Wikipedia.

So many College Study Skills... Now to Use them!

Again, try each study method. Find out which works best for you and then stick with it. It will most likely feel unusual after years of line by line reading. But, stick with it. You will find it gets better the more you use it.

A common theme among the college study skills are that they engage your mind. You are now reading actively instead of passively.

With each method, you are briefly looking over the material and then asking questions. These questions become an active, driving force while you read. They keep your interest in the topic you're studying. Reading becomes a much more efficient.

I hope that you find these college study skills helpful in all your studying.

Finished with College Study Skills? Return to Student Success in College.

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Which College Study Skill Do You Think is the Best?

Do you have a favorite college study skill? It doesn't have to be one mentioned on this page. If it works for you, then mention it!

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Using Repetition To Learn and Remember More 
Something that I like about each college study skill above is that each makes you get lots of exposure to the material you are studying. You have repeated … Not rated yet
This website has got a bunch of useful stuff for working in general. The guy aims it at people who have got exams, but to be honest the tips and advice …

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