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SQ3R MethodReading Tips

The SQ3R Method

Textbook Reading

SQ3R is an approach to reading that covers the two main parts of reading a textbook: Pre-reading and the actual reading of the chapter. SQ3R stands for:

S = Survey

Q = Question

R = Read

R = Recite

R = Repeat

STEP ONE: Survey

The survey step occurs in the Pre-read portion of the chapter. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes on this step depending on the complexity of the material. The acronym TRIMScan help you remember what to cover as you pre-read the chapter.

T = Title

R = Relationships

I = Introductions

M = Main heading

S = Summary

You survey the chapter by reading the following portions:

Title: Read the title so you know what the chapter is about.

Relationships: Ask yourself: How does the chapter relate to lectures? To what you all ready know? This step gets you thinking.

Introduction: Read the introduction to learn the main idea(s) of the chapter.

Main heading: Briefly read the main headings to learn the topic(s) that will be covered in the chapter.

Summary: Read the summary at the end of the chapter and any other material that might help you, such as Key Terms and Study Questions.

STEP TWO: The Chapter

After completing STEP ONE, you are prepared to read the chapter one section at a time using Question, Read, Recite, and Repeat.

Question – Form a question using the heading as a starting point. Use who, what, where, when, why, and how to create your question about the topic.

Read the section to find the answer to your question.

Recite your answer by writing it down in the margin or one a separate sheet of paper.

Tips: There may be more than one important point to each section, so make sure you ask enough questions.

Repeat this process for the subsequent sections of the chapter.

You are creating mini-chapters by breaking the text into smaller sections. You can take breaks at the end of a section without losing your concentration.


  1. Read with your lecture notes next to you (see below) so that you can see how the lecture and reading fit together.
  2. If the chapter has a number of Vocabulary Words, be sure to look them up after you read the chapter. Doing so will give you another opportunity to greater understand what you’ve read.
  3. Highlight important information in your text after you have read a passage or a paragraph.
  4. Highlight important facts and examples. Make examples with “ex.” in the margin.
  5. Highlight complete ideas rather than isolated words. Test yourself by reading only the highlighted material.
  6. Limit highlighting to ¼ of the page. Save time by using brackets to emphasize long, important passages.
  7. Create “target questions” to help you read actively. Take the headings and subheadings in your text and reword them into open-ended (how, why, what, etc.) questions.  As you read, highlight the answers to your questions.  When reviewing your textbook later, you can quiz yourself from your target questions to see how much information you recall.
  8. Circle vocabulary words, important concepts, names and dates to help you recall them.
  9. Make lists of related concepts by either numbering them in the margin (e.g., 1, 2, 3 ... ) or circling them within the text. Label the lists with descriptions in the margin (e.g., “5 reasons,” “3 examples”).
  10. Use abbreviations and symbols in the margin to mark important ideas.  Examples of these include:
    1. def = definition
    2. imp or ! = important idea
    3. ? = question about information
    4. sum = summary
    5. T = possible test questions
    6. lect. = lecture information
  11. Write “trigger words” (major topics, key terms and questions) in the margins that summarize the information. These can either be brief restatements of the material in your own words or questions about the material.

Source: Dynamic Learning Systems.