SQ3R: A Reading Strategy

SQ3R is a reading strategy designed to help students improve their comprehension, memory, and efficiency in reading. Briefly, this strategy aims to familiarize students with the material for easier understanding and to illustrate the importance of active review so that information is stored not only in the short term memory, but also in the long term memory. A basic premise is that we remember information when it is connected to our emotions and when we can interconnect the ideas. Finally, this is an excellent strategy to cut down wasted reading time. 


Read the objectives, introduction, bolded words, conclusion, summary, headings and subheadings, and the diagrams. This will give you a broad sense of the direction and scope of the topic and allow you to become familiarized with new terms. As you survey, activate any prior knowledge you have regarding the topic and show interest in the steps the authors take to reach their conclusions.


Formulate your own questions based on the information you have gathered at the prereading stage: turn headings into questions, turn boldface or italicized phrases into questions, use the chapter’s questions, and use course objectives to focus on particular ideas.


Read actively by underlining and marking in your text and by answering your questions. Mark your text and answer your questions using your own words rather than using the phrases in your text. Match your rate of reading with your comprehension level and slow down and/or reread if you do not understand.


Recite, from memory as much as possible, the important points under each heading after you read a section. Out loud and in your own words, recite the key features of the topic and how it relates to previous sections. This recitation can be done by writing, but doing it aloud benefits auditory learners and takes less time.


Review immediately after reading a section. This should be relatively brief, not more than 5 minutes, and can encompass answering your questions and outlining sections out loud and from memory. To inhibit forgetting, try reviewing weekly, and every time you read another section, review the previous section in the same way.

Robinson, F. P. (1970). SQ3R: Effective study (4th ed.). New York: Harper & Row.