The SQ3R Method of Learning

SQ3R is a reading comprehension method named for its five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. The method was first introduced by Francis P. Robinson, an American education philosopher, in his 1941 book Effective Study.

The SQ3R Method was created for college students, but it’s extremely useful for younger students as well. This method offers a more efficient and active approach to reading textbook material and retaining the information. Students all around the world still use SQ3R to better understand what they are reading.

Here is an overview of the SQ3R Method:

Survey (“S”)

Resist the temptation to start reading immediately. Instead, first survey or skim through the material. Note the headings, sub-headings and other outstanding features such as figures, tables, margin notes, and summary paragraphs. This typically only takes 3-5 minutes, and it prepares your mind for learning by providing an outline or framework for what will be presented.

Question (“Q”)

Generating questions about the material that you are studying is a form of inquiry-based learning. As your survey the text, identify ideas and ask questions about the content of the chapter. Convert headings and sub-headings into questions. Other more general questions may also be formulated:

  • What is this chapter about?
  • What question is this chapter trying to answer?
  • How does this information help me?

Read (R1)

The first “R” stands for reading with purpose. Use the background work done with “S” and “Q” in order to begin reading actively. This means reading while looking for answers to the questions raised in the previous step. Passive reading, in contrast, results in merely reading without engaging with the study material.

Recite (R2)

The second “R” refers to “Recite.” Try to recite from memory what was learned in each section; pretend you’re relaying the information to someone else. It’s important to use your own words in order to conceptualize what you just read. Try recalling and identifying major points (headings / subheadings) and answers to questions from the “Q” step. This recital step may be done either in an oral or written format. It boosts understanding and long-term memory recall of the material.

Review (R3)

The final “R” is “Review.” Once you reach the end of the material, do a final review by repeating back to yourself everything that you’ve learned in your own words. Reviewing is best done as an ongoing study procedure, rather than waiting until right before the test. Now it’s time to start over and repeat the whole five-step process on the next reading assignment. 🙂

The SQ3R Method may be time-consuming in the beginning stages, but it can save countless hours studying once you master all the steps. This study method offers a powerful strategy that can rewire your brain and make it more effective at processing and remembering information.

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