Definition of SQ3R Reading Studying Strategy

What Is SQ3R? A Definition For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

What is SQ3R?

Put briefly, SQ3R is a strategy for reading and studying. It is a sequence designed to increase retention and understanding by encouraging the reader to use each stage of the reading process (Before, During, and after) intentionally, moving from small details to large ideas and back again.

By setting a purpose for the reading, asking questions, taking notes, and reviewing both notes and text in relation to one another, readers are able to delve more deeply into a text compared to merely reading or even reading and responding (in a learning journal, for example). Dartmouth University helpfully captures each step by summarizing the steps of the SQ3R strategy below.

The 5 Steps Of SQ3R

  • Step 1: Survey
    • Skim through the book and read topical/sub-topical headings and sentences. Read summaries at the end of chapters and books. Try to anticipate what the author is going to say. Write these notes on paper, then look it over to get an overall idea.
  • Step 2: Question
    • Turn paragraph headings into questions (e.g. “Basic Concepts of Reading” to “What are the Basic Concepts of Reading?”). Write these questions out.
  • Step 3: Read
    • Read with alertness to answer the questions you came up with. Write notes, in your own words, under each question.
  • Step 4: Recall
    • Without looking at your books or notes, mentally visualize, in your own words, the high points of the material immediately upon completing the reading
    • ** More time should be spent on recall than reading
  • Step 5: Review
    • Look at your questions, answers, notes and book to see how well you did recall. Finish up with a mental picture of the WHOLE*

Adapted from F.P. Robinson. Effective Study. New York: Harper and Bros. 1948. Chapter II

Further, The Learning Corner at Oregon State offers more detail and strategies for each stage of the SQ3R process as well as clarifying the purpose of each step. We’ve retyped the questions and text below the image in case the image is somehow inaccessible or illegible.

How To Survey

Look over the material: title, prevoew, headings, visuals, bolded words, summary

Read the summary if possible

Think about background knowledge or information

How To Question

Turn headings into questions

Ask What? Who? Why? How?

How To Read

Look for answers to your questions

Write in the margins

Underline or highlight important concepts

Break up the reading into chunks

Take breaks when needed

How To Recite

Say it out loud in your own words

Write a summary of the paragraph or section

Writing notes of notecards for information

Create a concept map or graphic organizer of the ideas and how they relate

How To Review

Look over your notes and quiz yourself on the information

Make connections between readings and notes from class

Revisit your notes and the text weekly (or more frequently) and test yourself on new and old material each week

Why Survey?

It gives you the big picture

It helps you decide what’s important

You can connect information to what you already know

It prepares you to read

Why Question?

It helps you stay focused on the reading

It gives you a purpose (looking for the answer) and creates interest

It’s good practice for quizzing yourself on topics

Why Read?

It’s how to get information from the text

It’s good preparation for your lectures and discussions

It’s an essentiual part of the test preparation

Why Recite?

It helps you retain information after you read it

It checks for your level of understanding

It’s a way to interact with the text and stay focused

Why Review?

It helps you retain information from reading to reading and week to week

It helps you prepare for exams, papers, and related assignments

What Is SQ3R? A Definition For Teachers And Students