5W Strategy

Therapists may teach the 5W strategy to help the service member or veteran to learn more efficiently when reading something. This technique will help improve comprehension and memory since it allows the person to save time while reading instructions or other information. Instead of reading information over and over again, the person is taught to focus and pick out the main points of what is being read.

The 5W strategy involves reading and making a conscious effort to remember:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why

Why the 5W Strategy works:

  • Writing down or saying something out loud reinforces accurate memory. The 5W strategy also simplifies the information so main points can be recalled.
  • The service member or veteran may have difficulty at first, but practice helps.

An example of the 5W strategy:

  • Making or taking a message from someone — write down all five points (Ws) of the message
    • Who: Mom
    • What: Call about lunch
    • Where: Meet at our favorite restaurant
    • When: Friday at noon
    • Why: To talk about vacation plans