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  Reading Skills: SQ3R – A Method of Reading Textbooks
Classroom lectures, activities and discussions are the bricks upon which the course(s) are built. The textbook, however, is the mortar. The textbook provides the essential information for the course. Without the mortar, the foundation will not withstand the elements (tests). Unlike novels and mysteries, textbooks are not read for entertainment. They contain much information that sometimes the reader finds it difficult to remain focused especially if they read page after page and chapter after chapter.

“The SQ3R strategy is an effective reading technique, a technique that extracts the maximum amount of benefit from your reading time. The SQ3R helps to organize in your mind the structure of what you read, and guides you to separate the important information from the less relevant details. As you follow the SQ3R, your goal to maximize your reading comprehension, absorption, and retention, will very likely be achieved.” (Pearson Adult Learning Center. September 1, 2002)

Reading Skills: SQ3R – A Method of Reading Textbooks


Survey the chapter first. Become familiar with the chapter before class. Look at the chapter headings, charts, graphs, pictures and summaries. Review any reading aids especially those in italics, chapter objectives, definitions and study questions at the end of the chapter. Try to form an opinion of the material.

Question as you survey the chapter. Turn the boldface headings into as many questions as you think will be answered in the chapter. Try to figure out what the chapter is about and what the teacher might want you to know. The main objective is to have questions for which answers are expected to be covered in the chapter.

Read to search for the answers to your questions. Read through the chapter in detail. When reading complex information the reading speed will be decreased to allow comprehension. Try to separate the details from the main idea. Realize that you probably will not memorize the details at this point.

Recite the answers to the questions. This will aid in remembering the questions and answers you had created for the lesson. Cover the answers with a sheet of paper and test yourself to see if you can recall answers from memory.

Review often from the chapter study guide you have previously developed. Study the main ideas to keep the information fresh in your mind. You may want to develop tests of what questions you think the instructor may use.
If you apply the SQ3R formula to your reading of textbooks you will increase greatly your comprehension of the material and ultimately improve tests scores.

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