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SQ4R: A Method for Reading Textbooks

SQ4R is a method for reading texts that will help you absorb the information you are studying. It is a strategy that applies your senses and allows you to actively engage by translating the text into your own words.

Survey

  • Before reading a chapter in your textbook, take some time to skim through it and read any titles and subheadings, as well as the captions beneath any photos charts, maps or graphs.
  • Next, skip to the end of the chapter and read the chapter summary and study questions. This will allow you to determine what important information will be covered in this chapter.

Question

  • Turn each subheading or title into a question. For example, if the subheading is The Placebo Effect, ask yourself: What is the placebo effect?
  • Ask yourself if you already know anything about the subject, or what you remember your professor saying about that topic in class.
  • You may keep these questions in mind, or write them down to reference while reading the chapter.

Read

  • You may now begin to read the chapter. While you read, think about your questions and try to find the answers in the text.
  • Do not merely skim the text looking for answers; engage in active reading. Try to answer the study questions you may remember from the chapter summary.
  • Re-read passages you do not understand. Connect any graphics or charts to the information you are reading.
  • Focus on one section at a time and make sure that you understand what is written.

Respond

  • After reading a section, attempt to answer your question using your own words.
  • Try to summarize what you have just read, making special note of any key concepts or terms.
  • If you cannot answer your original question, re-read the section.
  • You may also find that your original question was not applicable, and needs to be changed; for example, “What is qualitative research?” may not have been answered in the section; your question may need to be changed to: “What are some examples of qualitative research methods?”

Record

  • Now that you have read the chapter and understand it, you can record the information.
  • You may do this in whichever way you find to be most helpful, whether it be highlighting the text or writing down notes in your own words.
  • It is important that you understand the material before recording it - do not attempt to do both at once.

Review

  • Once you are finished the entire chapter, read over your notes and use the questions you created to quiz yourself.
  • Try reciting your answers out loud as another way to remember the information.
  • It is also important to integrate a regular review period into your routine, to make it easier to remember old information.
  • If you review your notes on a weekly basis, you will find it much easier to study when it comes time for exams. Instead of re-learning information you have long forgotten, you will simply be reviewing material with which you are already familiar.
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