Home > Reading & Notetaking > Effective Reading Skills: 3S & SQ3R

Effective Reading Skills: 3S & SQ3R


Reading comprehension is a basic skill that each college student must possess.  Believe it or not, reading is a complex, accrued skill—not acquired overnight   Learning to read and comprehend takes practice. Reading requires the coordination of a number of interrelated sources (stuff you already know) of information.  So if you are trying to improve your reading skills, start here:

Skimming, scanning and studying

To get the most out of your reading and study experience, it is important to employ some methods that work toward organizing your reading assignments into smaller, manageable chunks – instead of getting lost in the big, giant textbook.There are different ways to cover text other than reading it line by line.    Even if you are not aware of it, you may already perform these methods of collecting information when you read a textbook.  The three types of reading you can use when studying, science, history, etc., are skimming, scanning, and studying.

Skimming is covering the chapter to get some of the main ideas and a general overview of the material.  It is what you do first when reading a chapter assignment.  You don’t read for details at this point.  Here is how you skim a chapter:

· Read the first paragraph of the chapter line by line.

· Next, read all the bold print headings starting at the beginning.

· Read the first sentence of every paragraph.

· Study any pictures, graphs, charts, and maps.

· Finally, read the last paragraph of the chapter.

As you skim, you could write down the main ideas and develop a chapter outline.

Scanning is what you do to find an answer to a specific question.  You may run your eyes quickly down the page in a zigzag or winding S pattern.  If you are looking for a name, you note capital letters.  For a date, you look for numbers.  Vocabulary words may be boldfaced or italicized.  When you scan for information, you read only what is needed.

Studying is the third type of reading.  This is when you actually read the whole chapter, line by line, for total comprehension.  You are now actively reading to understand what is really going on in the chapter.

Once you get the skimming, scanning and studying down pat, you are ready to move on to the SQ3R reading method which employs all three techniques.

What is the SQ3R?

First developed by researchers at Ohio State University, SQ3R is a useful technique for absorbing written information. It helps you to create a good mental framework of a subject, into which you can fit the right facts. It helps you to set study goals and prompts you to use the review techniques that will help you to remember.

The acronym SQ3R stands for the five sequential techniques you should use to read a book: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.

1. Survey (S): Scan the entire assignment to get an overview of the material.  Read the headings to see the major points.  Read the introductory paragraphs and the summary at the end of the chapter.  Don’t forget to look at the tables, pictures, etc.  Remember, you are scanning the material and not actually reading every sentence.

2. Question (Q): Make questions that can be answered during the reading of the material.  This will give a purpose to your reading.  Take a heading and turn it into a question.  For example, if a heading in a chapter about Cell Division is in your biology text, make a question by turning the title around: “How does cell division occur?” or “How many steps are involved in cell division?”

3. Read (R): Now you read the material trying to find answers to your questions.  This is a careful reading, line by line.  You may want to take notes or make flashcards.

4. Recite (R): As you read, look away from your book and notes and try to answer your questions.  This checks your learning and helps put that information in your memory.

5. Review (R): To check your memory, scan portions of the material or your notes to verify your answers.  Review the material and note the main points under each heading.  This review step helps you retain the material.

The SQ3R method is just one technique that can be used to retain information you collect while reading.  Students learn in different ways. Therefore they should be aware of their learning styles.  Knowing whether you are an Auditory (learn by hearing), Visual (learn by seeing) or Kinesthetic (hands-on) learner helps you to understand your best learning environment.   The SQ3R technique of reading can help to enhance your reading skills no matter what your style is.

Source: Student Support Services. Paul D. Camp Community College http://www.pc.vccs.edu/SSS/effective_reading_skills.htm#Things_to_remember

Other readings

Effective reading http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/read.html
Reading strategies http://www.mindtools.com/rdstratg.html
Australian Education Review http://research.acer.edu.au/aer/9/
Research skills http://sydney.edu.au/science/uniserve_science/projects/skills/jantrial/research.htm

Categories: Reading & Notetaking Tags:
  1. 12/08/2009 at 3:10 am

    An update on the SQ3R (with a better research base) is the PQRAR read-study method. Find this at PQRAR.

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