SQ3R method for reading a textbook


Increasing Your Retention of Written Information

SQ3R is a useful technique for fully absorbing written information. It helps you to create a good mental framework of a subject, into which you can fit facts correctly. It helps you to set study goals. It also prompts you to use the review techniques that will help to fix information in your mind.

By using SQ3R to actively read a document, you can get the maximum benefit from your reading time.

How to Use the Tool:

The acronym SQ3R stands for the five sequential techniques you should use to read a book:

  • Survey:
    Survey the document: scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions and chapter summaries to pick up a shallow overview of the text. Form an opinion of whether it will be of any help. If it does not give you the information you want, discard it.

  • Question:
    Make a note of any questions on the subject that come to mind, or particularly interest you following your survey. Perhaps scan the document again to see if any stand out. These questions can be considered almost as study goals - understanding the answers can help you to structure the information in your own mind.

  • Read:
    Now read the document. Read through useful sections in detail, taking care to understand all the points that are relevant. In the case of some texts this reading may be very slow. This will particularly be the case if there is a lot of dense and complicated information. While you are reading, it can help to take notes in Concept Map format.

  • Recall:
    Once you have read appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Isolate the core facts or the essential processes behind the subject, and then see how other information fits around them.

  • Review:
    Once you have run through the exercise of recalling the information, you can move on to the stage of reviewing it. This review can be by rereading the document, by expanding your notes, or by discussing the material with another student. A particularly effective method of reviewing information is to have to teach it to someone else!

Key Points:

SQ3R is a useful technique for extracting the maximum amount of benefit from your reading time. It helps you to organize the structure of a subject in your mind. It also helps you to set study goals and to separate important information from irrelevant data.

SQ3R is a five-stage active reading technique. The stages are:

  1. Survey

  2. Question

  3. Read

  4. Recall

  5. Review

If you use SQ3R, you will significantly improve the quality of your study time