sq3r: a textbook reading system

This technique will allow you to focus more effectively on textbook readings. It should help you to
understand and retain the information, and should make the reading process more productive and
Step 1: SURVEY
Look at the chapter title. If there is an introduction, a list of learning objectives, a summary, or
end-of-chapter study questions, read them. Skim the chapter looking at subtitles or section
headings. Also, note any terms that are in bold type or italics. Examine any diagrams, charts,
pictures or maps, and read their captions. Determine whatever you can about the subject and
scope of the chapter.
This first step should provide an overview of the chapter’s content, creating a mental
framework for your reading.
Think further about the chapter title, the subheadings, the illustrations, etc. and formulate
some questions based on them. Write these questions down so that you can refer to them as
you read.
This step helps you to focus on the subject and to engage your curiosity. Your questions,
even if they are very simple, will give a purpose to your reading as you look for answers.
Step 3: READ
Now read the chapter, looking for the answers to your questions. See if any assumptions that
you made about the content of the chapter are correct.
In this way, your reading becomes an active process, and concentration comes much more
Step 4: RECITE
After finishing each section of the chapter, go back to your questions and see if you can
answer them. At the same time, see if you can state the main ideas of your reading. If you
can’t, you should read that section again.
When you can answer your questions and sum up the main ideas in your own words, it is time
to move on to the next section.
Step 5: REVIEW
This is the final step in your reading session. Review all your questions and see if you can still
answer them. See if you can recall the key ideas of the entire chapter.
This final step helps to ensure your understanding of the material and to fix it in your memory.
Some variations of this system include an additional step—RECORD. This involves writing brief notes
based on the answers to your questions or simply on key ideas of the chapter. Simple note-taking of
this type takes very little time and will certainly help you to remember the information. Keep your notes
very brief, and express the ideas in your own words.
DD 2003