SQ3R is five-step technique that you can use to learn more effectively, and to increase your retention of written information. It helps you to focus what you need from a document, and to create a clear structure for the information in your mind.
To use SQ3R, follow the five steps below.
SURVEY Before reading, establish a purpose.
Survey (scan) the chapter
- Read the title of the chapter
- Read each subtitle
- Study any illustrations, graphs, charts, etc.
- Read the study guide questions at the end of the chapter
- Read the chapter summary
QUESTION Before reading, turn headings into direct questions.
Note down any questions that you may have about the subject. These could be the questions that led you to read it in the first place, or ones that you thought of during your survey.
Also, think about what else you want to achieve from this reading. What do you need to find out from this material? What are you most interested in learning? And how will this information help you?
When you question the material, you engage your mind and prepare it for learning. You're far more likely to retain information when you're actively looking for it.
READ Read for understanding, make sure to find answers.
Now read the document, one section at a time. Make a note of anything that you don't understand – you can use these notes later on, when you explore related materials.
You may find that this read-through takes more time than you expect, especially if the information is dense or complex.
Keep yourself focused by turning every subheading or chapter title into a question that you must answer before you move on. For example, you could turn the subtitle, "Juries in Courtrooms" into the question, "When is a jury used?" and run through the answer in your mind before you move onto the next part of the text.
RECITE Use your own words to paraphrase.
Once you've read the appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Identify the important points, and then work out how other information fits around them. Then, go back to your questions from Step 2, and try to answer them from memory. Only turn back to the text if you're unable to answer a question this way.
REVIEW Reread the text for clarification.
Once you can recall the information, you can start to review it.
First, reread the document or your notes. This is especially important if you don't feel confident that you've understood all of the information.
Then discuss the material with someone else – this is a highly effective method of reviewing information. Explain what you have just learned as comprehensively as you can, and do your best to put the information into a context that's meaningful for your team, organization, or industry.
Finally, schedule regular reviews of the material to keep it fresh in your mind. Do this after a week, after a month, and after several months – this helps to embed the material into your long-term memory.