Q of the SQ3R Reading Method

Q of the SQ3R Reading Method

Last week a student asked me about the question part, or Q, of the SQ3R Reading Method (survey, question, read, recite, review) which explains the title of this blog post. There are other reading methods that have a similar breakdown of components with some kind of preview and questioning before you do the close reading and concluding activities. They all work equally well if used correctly and consistently.

The primary purpose of questions is to prepare you to engage with the material.  In other words, if you have set up some questions for yourself, you have a specific reason to read the next section.

Having a more specific reason or goal is far stronger than a generalized or vague one such as the following:

“I have to read this chapter because the teacher told me.”

“I need to get this done so I can do other things.”

“I must pass this course, or else.”   

The Q or question part of the SQ3R Reading Method asks you to create questions before completing a line-by-line reading of the text. By using the headings and subheadings to formulate questions, you have already become involved in the process.  Now, searching for answers will help you to focus your attention and gather the necessary information.

Some reading methods suggest creating questions from the topic sentences of major paragraphs.  This would work particularly well if there are no or few headings in the text, or if the material is broken into large paragraphs.

Also, teachers often formulate questions based on key information and the headings & subheadings are usually indicators, like signposts, of the most salient information.

magnifying_glassYou can also use questions that are provided before and/or after a chapter or section, too.  Teachers have an easy time using these questions because most students skip over them!

As you search for answers, you can add relevant information to your notes. Also, you will be able to make more connections, creating a network of knowledge around the same topic.  The broader and deeper your network, the better.

Does everyone need to use a reading method like the SQ3R?


As with all study techniques, the SQ3R method is a suggestion.  It is a tool that works incredibly well for a lot of people, but it is not required.  Some people do perfectly well using their own method.  (However, I could argue that if we break down their method it will approximate one or more of the reading methods.)

Also, different reading materials can be approached differently.  There are many factors involved including the material, the reader, complexity of information, stated goals, and so on.

Remember that you are the most important element in your learning process, so take control and engage.

The more you participate, the more you gain.

This week's video:

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