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The SQ3R Method

By Ava Kesler

SQ3R is an acronym for five simple steps to improve your study retention. It takes you a step above passive reading and empty worksheets and provides a long-term way to learn material.


- read the titles

- skim the intro paragraphs

- understand the organization of the topics

- note graphics and vocab words

Surveying is a great way to get a large overview of the topic. Large chapters have a tendency to be overwhelming, so understanding the organization is helpful. The point is not to be intimidated after seeing how large the chapter is. Focus on how the author titled each section and why. This will get you thinking of the main categories of the topic and stay organized as you learn.


- note questions you come up with as you read the headings

- look for the answers as you read on to engage your mind

- gain a genuine curiosity

Natural questions you come up with for generic headings can help guide your note-taking. Instead of blindly studying what's written, you can have a more specified study experience. These questions also become helpful later on when you need to review, as you can see if you now know the answers.


- of course read the material to actually know what is going on

Reading for school is much different than for leisure. Learn to analyze texts for main ideas and chunks. Underlining and highlighting as you read is helpful for organizing the material further than the given headings. This is a good step for before attending lectures. Coming in with more background knowledge makes the material less foreign, and you are more comfortable with the terms.


- recite to yourself what you just learned after each topic

- teach yourself to actually retain the information

- write small summaries for each section

- create flashcards, mind maps, or charts as applicable

Reciting is a form of note-taking. It ensures active reading. You've already read the text as it is, and now you challenge yourself a step further by requiring yourself to remember what you read. Writing down what you can from memory, then going back to add what you might've forgotten, results in a more effective process.


- read over past notes and questions

- compare each section of notes to understand their similarities and differences

- continue reviewing old material

This helps make sure the material stays in your long term memory.


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"SQ3R - Reading/Study System." Cook Counseling Center.,gain%20from%20reading%20is%20important. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.

"What is the SQ3R study method and how to use it?" Marbella International University Centre. 17 Nov. 2020. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.

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