SQ4R is a systematic and effective method of studying a textbook chapter.
You may find that quiz and test questions seem familiar. This is because you have turned chapter headings into questions. When you predict questions and find the answers as you read, you are likely to be studying what is important in the course.
S | Survey
Surveying is the first step – a “sneak preview” of the chapter.
- Preview the chapter by reading the introduction and conclusion. You will increase your interest in the subject, and provide expectations to meet while you read.
- Scan the chapter headings to learn how the main points are developed or grouped.
- Once you have interest and expectations, you have a better chance of reading more effectively and efficiently.
Q | Question
Actively asking and working toward answering your questions helps the information stay with you.
- Turn each heading into a question. This engages your curiosity and aids in comprehension. The questions you ask will make important points stand out.
- Decide whether you need the body of the writing (which explains the points in detail) comprehensively, or if you can just skim it.
R | Read
Read to answer the question (usually to the end of the first section, paragraph or column). Turning a heading into a question demands a conscious effort on your part to find the answer. Your reading becomes an active search for the answer, rather than a passive scan of information.
R | Recite
- Briefly recite the answer to your question aloud, using your own words and examples. If you can do this without looking at the book, you know the material.
- If you can’t recite the answer, glance over your question and the sections again.
- To help you recite from memory, jot down cue phrases in outline form on a sheet of paper (highlighting the cue phrases in the textbook helps, too).
Now repeat the Question, Read, and Recite steps in each section for the remainder of the reading assignment.
R | Review
- After you read the entire lesson using the Question, Read, and Recite steps, review your notes or what you have highlighted.
- Check your memory of the content by reciting the major subpoints under each heading.
- Do a final summary review of the introduction, conclusion, and your notes/highlights. This helps you get the “big picture” of topics and ideas in the chapter.
R | Reflect
- Mentally manipulate your new ideas, turn them over, speculate on them, compare one with the other, notice where they agree and differ.
- Organize and reorganize these ideas into larger categories, or compress them into smaller units.
- Finally, free the ideas from the chapter and the book by incorporating them into your existing knowledge. Now you own the ideas.