Improve Your Reading Skills With SQ3R+
“Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you re-read.
— Francois Mauriac
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” — Helen Exley
SQ3R+ combines reading & study. You understand, organize, think, and remember.
SQ3R+ is a powerful strategy. When used correctly, SQ3R+ will give you the strength you need to attack and understand material that is difficult to understand.
This isn’t a strategy you will want to use on everything you read. But, if you have difficult material and want to learn it well, you will find this strategy helpful.
Many students who have been taught to use SQ3R, give it up because they don’t find it useful. The problem is they go through the process mindlessly. If you use this updated strategy, YOUR READING SKILLS WILL IMPROVE.
SQ3R+ improves Reading, Comprehension and Memory
1. S is for Survey (or Pre-reading) .
The Survey is NOT a quick and mindless process. It takes time and effort to study the Table of Contents and other parts of the book and create an outline or concept map of the book’s structure and main ideas. You might find it helpful to use the Charting Method , a concept map, or an outline, to get a clear overview of the book.
After the survey, you should have one sheet of paper showing the structure of the book, and later, one sheet showing the structure of the chapter, including the main ideas. You can add information or make revisions later.
2. Q is for Question
An important part of the process is writing down questions. Ask some questions before you begin reading. The most important questions, however, are written after you have a good idea of what the book is about. Don’t waste your time with boring questions. Write questions you really want answers for. The better your questions are, the more you will learn.
Use another sheet of paper to write your questions. You should have one page of quesions for the survey of the book, and one page of questions for each chapter. Leave several spaces after each question so you have space to write answers.
While you are reading, take time to write in any answers you find. These questions and answers are an important part of reading for meaning.
3. R is for Read
It is important to learn how to read the material only once. Students who plan to read the book again become lazy readers. They skip over material they don’t understand. When you read once, you concentrate harder, not giving up until you have discovered all the main ideas and understand all the important concepts.
Reading should include taking GOOD READING NOTES. At the end of each section of reading, take the time to write out the main ideas and important information. You can use an Outline, a Concept Map, or summarize the information. You will use these notes later when you need to go back over the material. When you actually write notes instead of highlighting material, you are more likely to be certain the material is important before you start writing.
4. R is for Recite
After reading a paragraph or section of a chapter, after a chapter, or after finishing the book, go over the main ideas. You can RECITE mentally, orally, or in writing. You might choose to re-write your reading notes from memory. If you cannot remember something important, check your reading notes to refresh your memory.
5. R is for Review
The first review should be soon after reading. With simple material you might review mentally. With most material, you will want to create an Outline, a Concept Map, a Summary of the chapter or reading assignment as a whole. You might be able to do this without using your notes, but your notes will help, use them to create a single page that summarizes all main ideas and important information.
- In further reviews, you might re-create this Outline, Concept Map or Summary, or you might find a better way to organize the information.
- You might do a Compare and Contrast Chart for part of the material. You might use a Timeline. Check other Visual and Verbal Strategies and use those that seem helpful.
- You might take a few of your questions and answer them in short essays.
- Check out the Thinking Skills. You might use Critical Thinking with your notes. You might use creative thinking, or other ways of thinking.
- Check out the Memory Skills. You won’t need to memorize much because you already understand it so well, but you might find it helpful to associate this new information with what you already know or with your experience. You will also find other ways of memory that work for you.
In other words, your regular reviews will include many of the Study Skills.
NOTE: A Review is active. It does NOT mean simply reading over your notes.
Schedule your reviews:
The second Review can be several hours later that day. The third Review should be just before going to sleep. Your brain will process the information while you sleep.
You can then review daily, weekly, etc. The timing of these reviews will vary depending on the difficulty of the material. When you finish the next chapter, repeat these steps for that chapter. After the first day of reviews, you might review both chapters together for the next week. OR you might review the second chapter every day that week and the first chapter only once.
By the time you finish the tenth chapter, you will be reviewing ten chapters on a regular schedule. Many of these reviews can be short. You might want to spend an 30 minutes to an hour a week, reviewing the accumulated material. The time needed will depend on four things:
1. How hard is the material?
2. How important is it to master the material?
3. How much time does it take YOU to master the material?
4. How much time do you have available?
With SQ3R+ You will save time two ways.
1. It will take more time at first, but eventually you will learn to read the material once. Reading Once saves time. You will also have a set of well-organized notes.
2. You will review these notes regularly. Then, when others are cramming for exams, you will already be prepared. You can relax and get plenty of sleep. Needing little or no time to prepare for exams also saves time.
I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves. — E. M. Forster
You will enjoy reading the story – what I call the miracle story – of Edward Hughes. He was a mediocre students who learned new study strategies and made astonishing grades on the exams to get into college. His story is found in a wonderful little book by Tony Buzan, Learning on Both Sides of the Brain. This book is the source of the term and the concept of scheduled reviews.
To learn more about Scheduled Reviews