SQ3R (which stands for: Skim, Question, Read, Recite, Review) is a reading method that quickly improves your understanding of a text, and increases your long-term memory of it.
Many students started using SQ3R when they noticed they weren't actually thinking about what they read.
When following the SQ3R method, readers practice active recall which stimulates memory during the learning process. It contrasts with passive review, in which the learning material is processed passively (e.g. reading, watching, etc.). For example, reading a text about George Washington, with no further action, is passive review. Answering the question "Who was the first US President?", is active recall.
The 5 steps to SQ3R are:
- Skim: Go through and get a lay of the land. Look at headings, graphics, highlighted words etc. Get an overview; it should take 3-5 minutes.
- Question: Write down questions that you have about this text. These can be general, targeted at the content or related to how the knowledge might be useful for your purposes.
- Read: Start actually reading, and as you do, answer the questions that you generated above.
- Recite: Describe what you have just read. This could be done out loud or in written format, but try to recall everything in your own words.
- Review: Take a break to reflect on what you've learned. Come back to the material again to review, trying to answer the questions that you generated before.
Try it yourself with our quick SQ3R template below.