SQ4R Study MethodWhat is it?
SQ4R is a systematic and effective method of studying a textbook chapter. Following the six steps of this method can make your reading more efficient, and help fix the important points of the chapter into your memory.
You may find that quiz and test questions seem familiar. This is because you have turned chapter headings into questions. When you predict questions and find the answers as you read, you are likely to be studying what is important in the course.
S = Survey
Surveying is the first step – a “sneak preview” of the chapter.
- Preview the chapter by reading the introduction and conclusion. You will increase your interest in the subject, and provide expectations to meet while you read.
- Scan the chapter headings to learn how the main points are developed or grouped.
- Once you have interest and expectations, you have a better chance of reading more effectively and efficiently.
Q = Question
- Turn each heading into a question. This engages your curiosity and aids in comprehension. The questions you ask will make important points stand out.
- Decide whether you need the body of the writing (which explains the points in detail) comprehensively, or if you can just skim it.
Actively asking and working toward answering your questions helps the information stay with you.
R = Read
Read to answer the question (usually to the end of the first section, paragraph or column). Turning a heading into a question demands a conscious effort on your part to find the answer. Your reading becomes an active search for the answer, rather than a passive scan of information.
R = Recite
- Briefly recite the answer to your question aloud, using your own words and examples. If you can do this without looking at the book, you know the material.
- If you can’t recite the answer, glance over your question and the sections again.
- To help you recite from memory, jot down cue phrases in outline form on a sheet of paper (highlighting the cue phrases in the textbook helps, too).
Now repeat the Question, Read, and Recite steps in each section for the remainder of the reading assignment.
R = Review
- After you read the entire lesson using the Question, Read, and Recite steps, review your notes or what you have highlighted.
- Check your memory of the content by reciting the major subpoints under each heading.
- Do a final summary review of the introduction, conclusion, and your notes/highlights. This helps you get the “big picture” of topics and ideas in the chapter.
R = Reflect
- Mentally manipulate your new ideas, turn them over, speculate on them, compare one with the other, notice where they agree and differ.
- Organize and reorganize these ideas into larger categories, or compress them into smaller units.
- Finally, free the ideas from the chapter and the book by incorporating them into your existing knowledge. Now you own the ideas.
General Tips for Reading
- Read for fun. Like any skill, reading improves with training. Any reading practice will help your academic reading.
- Use a pencil when you read. It serves as a guide to keep your reading speed steady, and is handy for making notes in the margins.
- Highlight or underline only the important information. Read a section before you mark it. You can’t decide what is important information until you’ve read it through once.
- Use the paragraph method. If you get to the end of a paragraph and can’t understand or remember what you’ve read, reread it. Going on probably won’t help.
- Set your environment. Find a comfortable location, and make sure you have your supplies (highlighters, dictionary, etc.). Pay attention to conditions such as light, temperature, and background noise.
- Pay attention to the text. Use all the clues and tools the author provides. See also the Effective Textbook Reading page.
- Take notes while you read. This helps you retain new information and organize it for review. If you routinely review your notes (reading and lecture) throughout the semester, you will be much better prepared for tests.