The SQ3R System of Efficient Studying Print

DESPITE sounding like the title of a science fiction movie or the latest high-tech gadget, SQ3R or SQRRR is actually an efficient studying technique.

This simple but effective method breaks the studying process into the following five steps: -

1. Survey
Resist the temptation to plunge straight into the text, rather glance over the headings in the chapter to see the main points that will be developed.

If the chapter has a final summary paragraph, skim through it.

This survey should not take more than a few minutes and will show the core ideas around which the discussion will cluster.

2. Question
Question refers to the practice of turning the headings and sub-headings into questions and then looking for the answers in the text.

This will bring to mind information already known, thus helping you to understand that section more quickly.

Consciously asking these questions will make important points stand out while explanatory detail is recognized as such.

Some questions you can ask are:

  • "What is this chapter about?"
  • "What question is this chapter trying to answer?"
  • "How does this information help me?"


3. Read

The first "R" stands for Read.

Read to the end of the first headed section to answer the question.

It is important to note that this is not a passive plodding along each line, but an active search for the answer.

This builds on the background work done with "S" and "Q" in order for you to engage in a way similar to active listening.

4. Recite
The second "R" refers to the part known as Recite, wRite or Recall.

Using key phrases, one is meant to identify major points and answers to questions from the "Q" step for each section.

While you can do this by either saying out answers or jotting down brief notes, it is important to use your own words and examples so you can improve your understanding.

If you can do this, you have grasped the material in the section; if you can't, glance over it again.

After doing this successfully, you now repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 on each succeeding headed section, that is: -

  • turn the next heading into a question
  • read to answer that question and
  • recite the answer by jotting down cue phrases in your outline


Read in this way until the entire chapter is completed.

5. Review
The final "R" is Review.

When the chapter has been read through, look over your notes to get a bird's eye view of the points and their relationship.

Check your memory by reciting the major sub points under each heading.

You can do this by covering up the notes and trying to recall the main points.

After recalling and exposing each major point, try to recall the sub points listed under it.

By following all these steps of the SQ3R system, you will benefit from constant feedback on study areas you need to focus on.

Go on and try it.

The SQ3R method was introduced in Effective Study, a book written by Francis Pleasant Robinson.