For those of us who have to consume large amounts of technical/professional information and really absorb it, SQ3R is a reading and study system that enhances information retention and absorption.

The name of this system, SQ3R, is an acronym for it’s five stage process:

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recite
  • Review

SQ3R helps you create a mental framework that you can use to fit the information you read and to further enrich it with new facts from additional sources.

  • Survey – Survey the document by scanning it’s contents, gathering the necessary information to focus on topics and help set study goals.
    1. Read the title, introduction, summary or a chapter’s first paragraph(s). This helps to orient yourself to how this chapter is organized and to understand the topic’s key points.
    2. Go through each boldface heading and subheading. This will help you to create a mental structure the topic.
    3. Check all graphics and captions closely. They’re there to emphasize certain points and provide rich additional information.
    4. Check reading aids and any footnotes. Emphasized text (italics, bold font, etc.) is typically introduced to catch the reader’s attention or to provide clarification.
  • Question – During this stage, you should note any questions on the subjects contained in the document. I suggest surveying the document again, this time making a note of any questions that you have while scanning each section. These questions become study goals and they will become information you’ll actively search later on while going through each section in detail.
  • Read – Read each section thoroughly, keeping your questions in mind. Try to find the answers and identify if you need additional ones. Mind Mapping can probably help to make sense of and correlate all the information.
  • Recall/Recite – In the recall (or recite) stage, you should go through what you read and try to answer the questions you noted before. I suggest doing this for every section, chapter or topic. It’s in this stage that you consolidate knowledge, so refrain from moving on until you can recall the core information.
  • Review – Reviewing all the collected information is the final step of the process. In this stage you can review the collected information, go through any particular chapter, expand your own notes, or discuss the topics with colleagues and other experts. An excellent way to consolidate information is to present or teach it to someone else.

The image below presents the SQ3R system as a workflow of tasks, the way I have been applying it.



2 Responses to SQ3R

  1. Pingback: Too Many Hats « Thousand Insights

  2. An update on SQ3R (with a better research base) is the easy-to-use PQRAR read-study method. Find this at PQRAR.

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