What is the SQ3R method?

the SQ3R method

The SQ3R method?

The SQ3R method is a reading strategy that optimizes comprehension. It consists of specific steps that guide readers towards better understanding and promote active reading. The SQ3R method was first developed by the American education philosopher, Francis P. Robinson, in his book Effective Study. It stands for:

  • Survey or skim
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recite
  • Review

Strategic readers adopt the SQ3R method to actively read texts, the aim being to discover, understand, and retain the important facts and ideas contained in the text.

Survey or skim

The first step of the procedure is to survey or skim. The readers are urged not to read the text immediately. Instead, they are invited to get a general idea of the passage by looking at:

  • The title
  • The headings and subheadings
  • The pictures
  • The charts and the graphs
  • The introductory and concluding paragraphs.


After surveying the text, readers are advised to generate as many questions as possible about the content of the text. This can be done as follows:

  • Converting titles, headings, and sub-headings into questions.
  • Looking at the questions at the end of the text.

Some of the questions may be formulated as follows

  • What is this text about?
  • What questions is the text trying to answer?
  • What information is of interest to me?
  • How do the ideas the text present help me?
  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • What am I missing?

This does not have to take too much time but it is essential in motivating readers to seek answers to the questions they have generated and in creating the need to know more about the text.


After surveying and generating enough questions, readers start actively reading the text. Instead of passively reading the text, the readers are advised to be actively involved in the reading process by having the questions they previously generated in step 2 in mind.


The fourth step consists of reciting the information learned in step 3. Readers have to retrieve from memory what they have learned. This recital step can be done in an oral or written format or both. This has the effect of consolidating acquisition of new information. Another positive effect is experiencing the benefits of retrieval in improving long-term memory of the information. This can be done as follows:

  • Encouraging readers to tell someone else about the information.
  • Using the readers’ own words in order to formulate and conceptualize the material.
  • Identifying (highlighting) the main ideas of the text.
  • Recalling answers to the questions formulated in the second step (Q).


The final step of this method is reviewing all the material. This step offers another chance for repetition of the material and hence will boost recall and long-term memory of the information. This can be done by:

  • Repeating to oneself the main idea of the passage using one’s own words.
  • Going back over all of the questions generated in step 2 and trying to answer them.
  • If the reader has forgotten the answers to some of the questions, he or she has to re-read the related parts (paragraphs, sections, chapters, etc.) of the text to refresh memory and consolidate retention.

More about SQ3R on Wikipedia

More on SQ3R Here

4 thoughts on “What is the SQ3R method?”

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