“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.”
As education becomes more digitised with time, the one thing that remains constant is the volley of information that teachers and students are required to familiarise themselves with. From employing the use of mnemonic devices to spaced repetition, countless study methods are constantly in rotation. Developed based on research in regard to cognitive psychology, the SQ3R or SQRRR method is a reading comprehension method comprising 5 main steps, namely:
- S - Survey
- Q - Question
- R - Read
- R - Recite
- R - Review
This strategy is extremely useful, especially with reading difficult textbook material. Proposed by Francis P. Robinson, a famous American psychologist, this method encourages students to expand their understanding of the text by actively engaging in the reading process, before, during, and after, with full intent. Let us look at each of the steps in detail:
Initially, readers scan the assigned text and mainly focus on the preview, layout, headings, bolded text, and charts/drawings/graphs to establish a framework for what will be present in the text. Going through the chapter summary is also a facet of this step. Try and think about the background knowledge of the text. At this point, one can identify the necessary information to focus on and formulate goals to achieve the same.
QUESTION (also called Query)
In this step, turn all the headings and subheadings you see into various questions that you think are bound to be answered in that section. Use the typical “What? Who? Why? Where? and How?” prefixes while framing your questions. For example, if the heading is “SQ3R Method”, start reading it as, “What is the SQ3R study method?” It will help create a purpose for the reading and let your mind actively engage with the topic at hand. Keep adding questions as you proceed.
In this part of the process, you can seek answers to the questions formed above. Pay extra attention to the first sentence of most sections, as they usually state the main idea being discussed. Make your notes as you go along, do not just copy the text directly. Paraphrase and highlight the most crucial points to break down the text into smaller fragments. The previous two actions will further aid in making the reading process more functional. Remember to take breaks as and when needed.
RECITE (also called Retrieve or Recall)
Once you are done reading the text at hand, try answering the questions you’ve created or the ones available at the end of most chapters. Observe if you can answer them by recalling what you’ve studied. If not, revisit those specific sections and make more notes. Actively avoid moving to the next section till you have memorised the current section. Use your words to retrieve this information in an oral/written form, or try creating a mind map to analyse how the ideas relate to each other. Carry out this exercise for all future sections as well.
Once you have gone through all the previous steps, go back and review all the questions you’ve created along the way. Notice if you can still answer them. Re-read the important sections slowly, make connections with your notes wherever possible, and remember why you are focusing on them. This step helps you filter your mental organisation to help with building memory. Reviewing should ideally be carried out within the next 24 hours of reading the entire text. Revisit the text regularly and keep testing yourself on old and new material consumed.
Why are these steps important?
Let us explore why each of the aforementioned steps of the SQ3R method is relevant while engaging in active & effective reading:
Survey: Surveying the text prepares you for reading by giving you the big picture and helping you decide what’s important.
Question: This part helps establish a purpose for the reading, piques your interest, and lets you stay focused in the moment.
Read: This is one of the most crucial steps while preparing for examinations and understanding what’s being taught in the classroom.
Recite: At this stage, one can assess their levels of understanding and work on retaining information once they have read it.
Review: As a concluding step, students can check how much they can recollect just by memory and actively put this newly acquired knowledge to use during assignments, class tests, and examinations.
The main benefit of the SQ3R method is the optimum utilisation of the time spent studying or reading text. This enables building a strong foundation to retain information that is an essential component of being a student. It allows students to approach reading systematically and to evaluate their comprehension after each section. Furthermore, it makes boring topics more interesting for the students. This is one of the more popular study methods, as it lets students become accustomed to the literature they’re learning, making it easier to grasp in comparison. It becomes possible to transfer new material to your long-term memory.
This method allows students to crack competitive exams with much less difficulty, as it indirectly teaches one to effectively manage your time and stress levels when it comes to reading/having to memorise a vast amount of information. As a subset of this, one can spend little time on one particular topic and cover the entire syllabus with extreme ease. The short notes and question banks that are invariably prepared as part of this process become useful when revising before an important test/paper.
For the teachers, it is very beneficial as they prepare for their lectures and design their lessons to suit the dynamic needs of the students, who operate at different levels of comprehension. In conclusion, it can be said that the SQ3R method is a highly effective study strategy and has benefitted an ocean of students and teachers alike. Along with inducing overall growth, this method deepens your understanding of the text.