In the fast-paced world of the internet, we often find ourselves grappling with a deluge of information. Whether it's textbooks, research articles, or lecture notes, the challenge lies not only in absorbing vast amounts of content but also in retaining and comprehending it effectively — Enter the SQ3R reading method.
The SQ3R method is a way to study books that helps readers understand and remember information better. The acronym SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.
Let's jump into it and see how you can improve your learning experience.
The SQ3R Method: The Breakdown
・Survey Before delving into the content, quickly scan the material to get an overview. Look at headings, subheadings, and any bold or italicized text. Read the introduction and conclusion, and examine any visual aids such as charts or graphs. This step helps you understand the structure and main ideas of the material (book).
Before you begin a new book (or article), skim the material and get a feel for the main topics and ideas in the text. The process below should take 5-10 minutes.
Read the introduction
Look at the headings and subheadings
Look at the pictures, charts, and graphs (anything visual)
Read the chapter summary
Look at the study questions at the end of the chapter
・Question Formulate questions based on the headings and subheadings you encountered during the survey. This step engages your curiosity and prepares your mind to actively seek answers as you read. Questions can be about details, main ideas, or connections between concepts.
Practical case → Take the first heading in the chapter and turn it into a question before reading the paragraphs in that section. For instance, if the heading is “A Limited Partnership”, read it as “What is a limited partnership?” Now you have created a purpose for reading because you are looking for the answer to the question.
・Read Read the material actively and attentively. Focus on finding answers to the questions you generated in the previous step. Take notes, underline key points, and highlight important information. Be sure to understand the main concepts and their interrelationships.
Practical case → As you read look for answers to the questions you created. Use the following tips when reading:
Usually the first sentence of each paragraph states the main idea.
Look for transition words such as next, for example, in contrast, in addition, to help you follow the author’s point.
Make notes in the margin or in a notebook as you read. Paraphrase main points and ideas; do NOT simply copy information from the textbook.
Highlight only the most essential points. Too much highlighting can make it difficult to separate the main point from support details.
・Recite After reading a section, close the book and try to recall the information. Answer the questions you formulated during the “Question” step without looking at the text. This step reinforces your understanding and helps commit the information to memory. Take the time and recite or recall whatever you can remember as soon as you finish reading.
・Review Once you've completed the entire reading assignment, review your notes and the material as a whole. Check if you can answer the questions you formulated earlier without referring to the text.
Reviewing helps reinforce your understanding and identifies areas where you may need further clarification or study. After you study new material, it is crucial to conduct an overall review within 24 hours for maximum comprehension and memory. You can lose 80% of what you have learned if you do not review within the next day.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I'm curious to hear if this tutorial helped you. Please let me know your thoughts below in the comments. Don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter to avoid missing my upcoming blog posts.
Personally, I use Notion to implement this reading technique, when I have to dive into a new book, but you can use a tool that suits your needs, like Obsidian, Evernote, etc…
In summary, the SQ3R reading method is indispensable because it promotes active learning, enhances comprehension, and contributes to long-term retention of information. It provides a structured and systematic approach that can be beneficial for students seeking to improve their reading and study skills.
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