The SQ3R method




is a technique used to enhance study skills by structuring a framework to better understand reading assignments.  It helps make reading and studying effective while making the most efficient use of time.  The SQ3R method was created by Francis Pleasant Robinson in his 1946 book “Effective Study.”



SQ3R is a reading comprehension method named for its five steps:

  1. Survey
  2. Question
  3. Read
  4. Recite
  5. Review


The SQ3R system is effective because it forces the learner to pass over the information multiple times in one session.  This helps to digest the new information more easily as it activity helps move information from short term into long term memory.  Although this method seems like a lot of extra work, it really is not.  It actually saves time in the long run by getting the information into long term memory quicker and more effectively.  It also prepares the student and gives him or her confidence to actively participate in classroom discussion which enhances learning.





Summary of the Five Steps

The five steps of the SQ3R Method are divided into 3 segments;

  1. Before you read (Survey and Question)
  2. Reading the chapter (Read and Recite)
  3. After you read (Review)


Before you begin to read each section of a chapter, survey the entire chapter and ask questions.


Before you read, survey the entire chapter by scanning the titles, headings, pictures and chapter summaries to obtain a general understanding of the concepts. 


As you survey, actively ask yourself questions about the information in the various sections.


Read one section at a time and as you read each section find the answers to your questions. After which, recite the answer in your own words and write it down


Actively read for comprehension to locate the concepts and facts.


Transfer information to long term memory by answering the questions in your own words.


After you have read all the sections in the entire chapter, review the chapter


Practice and rehearse the main ideas/concepts then reflect on key learning concepts.





The Survey approach is intended to get the overall picture of what you are going to study before you study it in detail.  Surveying takes about 5 to 10 minutes. The purpose is to obtain a general understanding of the chapter.  The preview will orient you to the main focus of the chapter.  Think of the survey step as reviewing a map prior to a trip.

As part of the first step, glance through a chapter to identify headings, sub-headings and other outstanding features in the text.  The purpose is to identify key concepts or ideas and formulate questions about the content of the chapter.  Read the introduction as well as the questions and summary at the end of the chapter.  These will help you to identify important parts of the chapter.

Surveying Tips:

  • Read the title, headings, and subheadings
  • Read introductory and concluding paragraphs
  • Read the chapter introduction and chapter summary
  • Read the questions at the end of the chapter
  • Notice words that are italicized or bold.
  • Look at charts, graphs, pictures, maps and other visual material
  • Read captions




As you survey the text, ask yourself questions.  Ask what, why, how, when, who and where questions as they relate to the content.  Turn each heading and subheading into a question. Turning headings into questions is essential to increasing your concentration and to improving your ability to select main ideas.  When you later answer them, it will help to make sense of the material and remember it more easily because the process will make an impression on you.  This questioning technique helps you pay attention, understand the text better and recall the information more easily later on.

Consider writing down your questions in the margins, in your notebook/outline, or a separate sheet of paper.  Leave space between each question for the answers.

Questioning Tips:

  • Turn the title, headings or subheadings into questions
  • Rewrite the questions at the end of the chapter




Now that you have formulated questions for each section, begin to read that section for the answers.  Read one section at a time.  As you read that section, look for the answers to your questions that you developed.  It is important to read actively, therefore, read to answer questions you have asked yourself as you surveyed the text.  Because when you read with a purpose you get more out of the reading.

Pay attention to bold and italicized text that authors use to make important points.  Be sure to read everything, including tables, graphs and illustrations because the visual can convey an idea more powerfully than written text.

Periodically stop reading to recall what you have read.  Try to develop an overall concept of what you have read in your own words and thoughts. Try to recall main headings, important ideas or concepts, and what graphs or charts indicate.  Try to connect things you have just read to things you already know.  Because when you do this periodically, the chances are you will remember much more and be able to recall later.

Reading Tips:

  • Actively look for an answer to your questions for that section
  • Review tables, graphs and illustrations
  • Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases
  • Reduce your speed for difficult passages
  • Stop and reread parts which are not clear
  • Read only a section at a time and recite after each section




At the end of each section or as you read each section, recite the answer to your questions for that section in your own words.  Then write down your answer using only key words that are needed to recall the entire idea.  If you can’t answer the question, review that section again.  Once you are able to recite your answer, repeat the Question, Read and Recite steps for each section of the chapter.

Follow the above technique for each section of the chapter.

Reciting Tips:

  • Take notes from the text
  • Keep answers brief
  • Use your own words
  • Orally ask yourself questions about what you have just read
  • Underline or highlight important points you read
  • The more senses you use the more likely you are to remember what you read Learning reinforcement: seeing, saying, hearing, and writing




When you have completed the chapter, review your answers/notes to get a sense of the overall coherence of the chapter.  Identify the main points by looking for the most important ideas in each section.  Try to understand how the chapter relates to the material you are studying in class, and how it relates to the last chapter you read.

Review is an ongoing process.  Therefore, review your study notes every week to help you remember the information.

Reviewing Tips:

  • Anticipate exam questions
  • Try to recall the main points of the chapter
  • Review periodically
  • The best time to review is when you have just finished studying something



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