Reading and Learning The SQ3R Method of Textbook Study

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The SQ3R method is a proven, step-by-step strategic approach to learning and studying from textbooks. Why is it successful? Because it helps you to discover the important facts and ideas that are contained in your textbook, and master and retain that information so that you are prepared for an examination.

SQ3R is an abbreviation to help you remember the steps and to make references to it simpler. The symbols stand for the steps followed in using the method: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. A description of each of these steps is given below:

These five steps, when applied to textbook assignments, will help you in making your study time more efficient and effective. While this method will take time and practice to master, once it is learned and applied, it will no longer be necessary to re-read textbook chapters. The added benefit of using the SQ3R Method is that often you will find your own questions on a test. Because many instructors use the textbook as an outline for their courses, test questions will be coming from the same source as yours. As you review your notes and texts, you will be able to predict and prepare answers for many exam questions.

  1. SURVEY: (before class) Read the following:This survey should take no more than 10-25 minutes, even on the longest chapter. The purpose of surveying the chapter is to get a general idea of what it is going to be about, what kind of information the author gives, how many sub-topics the information is broken down into, and how much time you will have to spend reading it.
    • Chapter Title
    • Introduction
    • Objectives
    • Vocabulary
    • Summary
    • Review questions
    • Boldface headings
    • Graphics and their accompanying captions
  2. QUESTION: (before class) Turn each boldfaced heading into a question by using one of the following words: who, what, where, when, why, or how.

    The reason for creating a question out of each heading is to set a purpose for reading the material in more detail. When you are reading to find the answer to a specific question, you are reading actively.

  3. READ: (after class)
    Actively read the section of the text accompanying the heading for an answer to the question you asked yourself in step 2. The answer will usually be made up of the main idea(s) of the paragraph(s) and the supporting details. Read the section to find the answer. The purpose of reading is to find the answer to your question.
  4. RECITE: (after class)
    Recite the answer to each question to yourself. Put the answer into your own words, or rephrase the author's words. Be sure that you can recall the answer, not just recognize the information as correct. Write the questions in your notebook along with a few key words or phrases that summarize the answer.  The purpose for doing this is to help you think about and understand what you have read. When you rewrite or rephrase what you read, your comprehension and retention will improve.
  5. REVIEW: (before next class)
    To review, cover the answers and ask yourself the questions. If you can't answer the question, look at your notes and test yourself again. Once you are sure you know and understand the question and answer, check it off. The purpose for reviewing is to help you prepare for the eventual test. Remember that very few people read textbooks for pleasure; they are read to acquire information and to remember and apply it in a testing situation. Reviewing helps you remember the information.

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