SQ3R Method for Effective Reading

Reading your textbook or assigned texts for classes is an important part of the learning process for most college courses. All that reading can be overwhelming at times! Use the SQ3R method described below to make sure you are getting the most from your time spent reading. It may seem time consuming at first, but as you practice the strategy you will find that it takes you less time to get through your texts and you will gain much more from the process. 

For tips on reading scholarly articles or finding a thesis statement, check out our videos!

SQ3R Method


  • Skim through the material quickly
  • Take a “picture walk” – glance at the diagrams included in the material to get a sense of what you will be reading about and what may already be familiar
  • Read heading and sub-headings


  • Create questions based on the headings: “The gas laws of Boyle, Charles and Avogadro” write “What are the gas laws of Boyle, Charles and Avogadro?”
  • Think about what you already know about the material to be covered and ask questions based on what you would like to learn based on your survey of the material to expand your knowledge


  • Read the text with your questions in mind, always connecting sections of the text back to the overall topic of the article/chapter
  • Write notes in your own words under the questions you created
  • Think about only writing short, 3-5 word phrases in your notes as you read
  • You are NOT reading to teach yourself the material, you are reading to begin to familiarize yourself with the material and be prepared for class

Recall – Spend more time here!

  • Without looking back at your book or notes, mentally visualize and sketch the main concepts from the reading in your own words
  • This forces you to check your understanding, points out what you still don’t yet understand and requires you to THINK about the material you just read


  • Look at your questions, answers, notes and book to determine how well you did in recalling the most important information
  • Note the concepts that you still don’t understand so you can be sure to get clarification on those ideas later
  • End with a picture of the WHOLE – what were the most essential points from what you just read (a concept map may be helpful with this!)

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