Steps In The SQ3R System


Try to become familiar with the organization and general content of the material you are to read.

  1. Read the chapter title.
  2. Read the lead-in or introduction and the goals/objectives of the chapter.
  3. Read each boldface heading (and ideally the first sentence following each heading).
  4. Read titles of charts, graphs, and illustrations as well as picture captions.
  5. Read the last paragraph of the chapter or the chapter summary.
  6. Read the end-of-chapter questions.

Surveying takes only a few minutes (approximately 5 minutes for the average chapter). You will make up for that time by being able to read faster because you are familiar with the material and the organization of the chapter. Surveying will motivate you to go on to the reading and provides an extra review of the most important points.


Form questions as you read. Questions create curiosity, improve concentration, give purpose to your search, and make important ideas more visible - all aiding comprehension. Turn each section heading into a question. Jot down your questions in the margin of your text. You will find these questions helpful when you review the material. Compare your questions to those at the end of the chapter.


Read the material section by section. As you read, look for the answers to the questions you formed from the heading of that section.

Evaluate the material. How does the material relate to what you know? How does this information make a difference in your life? When you are actively involved in your reading, you will find yourself learning better.


After you finish reading each section, stop. Think about what you have just read. Check if you can answer your questions for the section. If not, look back to find the answer. Reciting is a crucial step for remembering! Be sure you say the most important points to yourself in your own words. Without reciting, you may forget more than half of what you read within the first day.


After you have read the material, section by section, you are ready to look at the total chapter to see how all the parts relate to each other.

Plan the first review within 24 hours after reading the material. You may find you have already forgotten some of the material; however, notice how quickly you pick up the material that second time. Relearning material also wears a deeper path into the memory.

This review need not be time-consuming. As little as 15 minutes reviewing a 2-hour reading assignment will save you hours when you study for exams later.

When you complete an assignment using the SQ3R study system, (1) you will have an overview of the material, (2) you will understand how the material is organized, (3) you will have read the material carefully, and (4) you will have reviewed the main points at least four times. You will learn better, you will remember better, and you will not have to cram for tests!