The title for this method of study is abbreviated to make it easier to remember. The symbols stand for the steps which you will follow in using this method. These five steps of the SQ3R Method - Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review - polished should result in your reading faster, picking out the important points and fixing them in memory.

You will find another worthwhile outcome. Quiz questions will seem familiar because the headings turned into questions are usually the points emphasized in quizzes.

1. Survey --

Locate the exact pages you are to read and find out how many pages you have to cover.

If you are starting a new chapter, survey the entire chapter. Begin with the title, glance through the chapter, survey the entire chapter. Note the headings of the main section. This will help you see the few big ideas which will be developed.

Look over all the pictures, maps, charts, and graphs. They will give you good hints about the content of the chapter. Read the captions and titles under each picture.

Turn to the end of the chapter. If the chapter has a final summary, this will list the ideas developed in the chapter. If you read the summary now, you will have specific goals in mind as you study.

Look over the questions at the end of the chapter. They will give you an idea ofwhat the author thinks is most important. Finally, look for a list of technical terms or hard words used in the chapter.

Watch for these words as you read. If the text does not explain them, look them up in the dictionary. If you do not understand these words you will not understand the chapter.

A survey of the headings in a lesson should take only a minute or two. Make a conscious effort to look just at the headings.

2. Question --

Now begin to work! Begin asking questions.

What does the title mean? What does this picture have to do with the rest of the chapter? What does this strange word mean? Turn the chapter headings into questions. These questions will stimulate your curiosity and so increases your comprehension. Keep these questions in mind as you read.

If you are reading a library book or magazine article, ask yourself the following questions:

What is the writer's purpose? What is he trying to get me to believe or feel? How does he know about this subject? Why is he saying what he does? Who is the author anyhow? Does he give good evidence or only his own opinion?

Don't slight these first two steps -- Survey and Question! These steps help you to concentrate your attention -- to get more and remember more.

3. Read --

Read to answer your questions. Read to the end of the first headed section. This reading must be an active search for the answer -- not a passive plodding along.

4. Recite --

Having read the first section, look away from the book and try briefly to recite the answers to your questions. Use your own words and name an example. If you can do this you know what is in the book; if you can't glance over the section again. An excellent way to do this reciting from memory is to jot down phrases in outline form on a sheet of paper. Make these notes very brief! Memorize dates, names, figures and events. This is sometimes added as a rite step.

Rite - Reduce both the question and the answer to a very few cue words. Reduce further by using abbreviations. Thus, the recitation and notes on a section entitled Causes for Economic Depression looks like:

Recitation Rite

What causes depression?                                         Cause depress?

1. Inflation or cheap money                                         1. chp mon.

2. Over-speculation, i.e, buying more on margin         2. ov-spec (marg) 
    than one can cover by present assets

3. Corporations sell more stock than their assets         3. wat. stk. 
    warrant (called watered stock)

Now repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 on each succeeding headed section. That is turn the next heading into a question, read to answer that question and recite the answer by jotting down cue phrases in your outline. Read in this way until the entire lesson is completed.

5. Review --

You have to read carefully. Now is the time to organize your ideas and information. Review is the process of getting things in the right order. Look over your notes to get a birds-eye view of the points and the points and their relationship and check your memory as to the content by reciting on the major sub points under each heading. This checking of memory can be done by covering up the notes and trying to recall the main pints. Then expose each major point and try to recall the sub points listed under it.

Review is the stage of SQ3R in which you become master of what you have read. To ignore it is to say that your reading time was wasted.

Skimming -- In the survey, review and reciting you will be using a most valuable reading technique -- skimming. You will learn to use your eyes rapidly over a page to locate a word, a fact, or just to get the picture of the whole thing better in your mind .

One example of skimming is your use of the telephone directory. Your eyes skim down the page to locate the right name; then you stop and read the number carefully.

When you are trying to locate the right book in the library, skimming combined with your survey question techniques will save you hours of reading the wrong book! Knowing how to select what you read is an important reading and study skill.

SKIMMING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR READING, but a kind of reading used for special purposes.


  1. A survey of headings should take only a couple of minutes. Just look at the headings and estimate what the lesson is about. Don't start to read carefully yet. Practice this technique.
  2. Changing a heading into a question should be a conscious effort to orient oneself actively toward the material. Have definite questions in mind as you read! Habits from reading fiction often make it difficult to read textbooks. Most people don't read fiction with a desire to remember. Reading textbooks is work; the reader must know what he is looking for, look for it, and then organize his thinking on the topic he has been reading about. 
  3. Reciting -- the tendency in this step is to keep going but you must stop at the end of each headed section to see if you can answer the questions at the start of the section.

    Notes should be exceedingly brief. Do not take notes while reading. First, no notes was written until the whole headed section is completely read. Second, the notes are jotted down from memory in your own words and not from the book. Third, the notes should be brief--not more than a word or two--only cue words and phrases. 
  4. Review immediately after reading should be brief -- not more than five minutes. Later review are also worthwhile because of the forgetting that takes place.

This SQ3R method has proved most satisfactory.

Practice it until you have mastered the technique.

Study is work! There is no royal road to learning!