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Reading Strategies: SQ3R Method


Young woman reading a book on train
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Throughout your education you can expect to be assigned a great deal of reading. Students who aren't comfortable with reading or who feel like their skills are deficient will find it hard to succeed in college and graduate school. It's essential that you read for class

If you're looking to be a more efficient reader, try the SQ3R Method. It's designed to help you read faster and retain more. SQ3R stands for the steps in reading: survey, question, read, recite, review. It might seem like it takes more time to use the SQ3R method, but you'll find that you retain more and have to reread less often. Let's take a look at the steps:

Before reading, survey the material. Glance through the topic headings and try to get an overview of the reading. Skim the sections and read the final summary paragraph to get an idea of where the chapter is going. Only spend a few minutes surveying the reading to get a background knowledge, an initial orientation that will help you to organize the material as you read it. It eases you into the reading assignment

Look at the first heading in the chapter. Turn it into a question. Ask questions to be answered in your reading. This step requires conscious effort, but is worth it as it leads to active reading, the best way to retain written material. Asking questions focuses your concentration on what you need to learn or get out of your reading.

Read the first section of your reading assignment to answer your question. Actively search for the answer to your question. If you finish the section and haven't answered the question, reread it. Read reflectively. Consider what the author is trying to say, and think about how you can use that information.

Once you've read an initial section, look away and try to recite the answer to your question, using your own words and examples. If you can do this, it means that you understand the material. If you can't, glance over the section again. Once you have the answers to your questions, write them down.

After reading the entire assignment, test your memory by asking yourself the questions that you've identified. Review your notes for an overview the chapter. Consider how it fits with what you know from the course, experience, and other classes. What is the material's significance? What are the implications or applications of this material? What questions are you left with?

How many of the steps you follow is up to you. As you become more efficient you may find that you can read more - and retain more - with less effort. Regardless, if an assignment is important, be sure to take notes so that you don't have to reread it later.

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