The SQ3R Learning/Study System*
The SQ3R learning/study system is an organized approach to learning from textbooks, articles, and reports. Students who use a study system tend to read with greater comprehension and remember more over a period of time. What are the components of the SQ3R system? The essential rules are condensed into the following five specific steps:
The first is to SURVEY. This process is to give you a quick overview of the material that will be covered by the article or chapter. The survey should not take more than 3 or 4 minutes and involves reading the title and abstract, the introductory and concluding paragraphs, and looking at the figures and captions so that you get a general idea of what the article or chapter is about.
Step two is to QUESTION. Here you take all the major subheadings in the chapter and turn them into questions. Write these questions down on a sheet of notebook paper, leaving 4 to 5 lines between the questions. This is basically to help you organize your thoughts in advance and also helps you to keep your mind on what you are doing.
Step three is to READ. Now you read the chapter or article in order to find the answers to your questions. Write the answers in your notebook under your questions. As you do this, you are creating a study guide for the chapter that will make later reviews easier. Make certain that you ask questions that are answered in the reading. If a question you come up with is not answered, then change the question. As you become more proficient at this, you may start to notice an interesting phenomenon. The questions that you make up in your studying MAY be the same ones that your instructor asks you on exams. In effect, you are predicting exam questions.
The fourth step is to RECITE. This is very important when studying. Just say to yourself or to a partner, out loud, what it is you have just read. The more of your senses that you use while studying, the more likely you are to remember the material. If you can find someone else who is interested, discuss both the material and your questions.
Step five is REVIEW. Take the study guide that you have developed for the chapter and look it over whenever possible. Don't wait until the last minute. The review can be done in small chucks of time between classes or while waiting for friends. Engaging in short periods of intensive concentration is a very efficient study method.
The SQ3R System should greatly increase your learning efficiency. The key to this and other learning systems is repetition and then monitoring comprehension. The method involves reviewing the material several times and determining, through the use of your study guide, what you do and do not understand prior to moving on. Hopefully, these processes will help you to understand and retain the material for future applications.
*Adapted from notes by James R. Fleming, Colby College, 1996.
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