Tips For Better Studying: Read, Recite, Review

By Carole Wade, PhD, Carol Tavris, PhD, and Maryanne Garry, PhD

Your instructor has assigned you certain readings from your textbook and possibly other sources as well. How will you learn all of this information?
Secret #1: Use the 3R technique: Read. Recite. Review.

Let’s say you’re supposed to read a chapter by your next class. Use these three basic steps:

Read a section of the chapter. Then close the book and hide your notes.

Recite (speak aloud) everything you can remember about what you’ve just read. You don’t need fancy equipment. You can recite to yourself, to a friend, to your cat or even to your coffee mug or a plant in your room.

Review the section by reading it again to correct anything you got wrong, or to revisit important information that you overlooked when you recited.

In one study comparing the effectiveness of various study techniques, students in three groups read long, technical encyclopedia entries (McDaniel, Howard & Einstein, 2009). One group used the 3R technique; a second read the articles twice and did nothing else; a third read the articles once but took notes while reading. A week later, everyone took the same test. The students who had used the 3R technique did much better on the test than students who used the other techniques. What’s more, it took students less time to use the 3R technique than reading and taking notes.

One reason this method works so well is that when you practice the second R, you see immediately what you had trouble understanding, learning and remembering, so you know what to concentrate on when you do the third R: review.

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