The SQ3R Method Explained : How It Increases Reading Comprehension


SQ3R is a study strategy based on cognitive psychology research that enhances better comprehension of reading material . 

Francis P. Robinson, a well-known American educational psychologist, proposed SQ3R in his book Effective study (1946).  




Stahl and Armstrong (2020) identify Robinson as a pioneer in the development of postsecondary literacy theory, research, and pedagogy who, despite his extensive and varied contributions to the field of reading and learning, is best recognised by SQ3R in a recent article in the journal Reading Literacy. 

When you get into the learning sector, you’ll immediately discover that there are many various ways to learn and study a subject. More ways are coming to the fore and gaining popularity. The SQ3R technique is one of them that I haven’t talked about much. 

It doesn’t take much to learn this approach of studying, but you’ll be able to get the most out of it if you apply it to your future learning. I’ll tell you everything about it down below. 

What is the SQ3R Method, and how does it work? 

This strategy can be used to study, understand, and retain any written information fast, whether it’s for studying or reading. The SQ3R approach was first stated in Francis P. Robinson’s book Effective Study, published in 1946, and has since been reprinted multiple times

The goal of this strategy is to assist learners in efficiently and actively reading and comprehending materials, with a strong emphasis on educational literature. 

This strategy, however, may be applied to any type of material if you want to have a better knowledge of something. 

The SQ3R Method’s Advantages 

The biggest and obvious advantage of this strategy is that it allows you to make the most of your reading time.  

You can actively read anything and have a greater ability to retain and explain what the content is about by following the five phases of the SQ3R method. 

The second advantage of adopting the first step is that you will be reading more carefully and concentrating on the most important information. This will help you recall the information better. 

Some additional benefits include: 

  • The ability to add a second R to a method – The fourth R, often known as SQ4R, can signify a variety of things, including Relate, Record, or Reflect. This extra stage allows you to relate what you’ve learned to your own personal experiences (Relate), make a more detailed summary for better understanding (Record), or gain a better understanding and clarity on a topic (Record) (Reflect). 
  • A greater awareness of what you’re reading allows you to determine whether it’s worth reading or what to concentrate on in a book, resulting in faster and more efficient reading. 
  • You’ll have more concentration and thought about the topic or material – This means you’ll be in the right frame of mind to absorb more knowledge. You’re reading with a clear goal in mind, which means you’re more likely to succeed. 
  • It makes it easier for you to transmit new information to your long-term memory – The information we take in right now is stored in our short-term memory, which is restricted and only lasts a few seconds. It’s wonderful that information may be kept in the short term and then transported to the long term using this way since we’re more likely to remember and apply it. 
  • You’ll avoid information overload if you use this strategy, which encourages you to spread out information over a longer period of time. You can’t cram or overwhelm your head with information for this strategy to operate. For many people, this is critical because information is everywhere, and it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed and overloaded with it. 
  • You’ll spend less time studying and more time putting what you’ve learned into practise — Despite the fact that this strategy appears to require more time to study and process, research suggests that those who utilise it spend less time studying for exams than those who don’t. Outside of academia, this means you can assimilate knowledge faster than others and make better decisions. 

What is the best way to use this method? 

The typical method to studying texts or self-improvement books for most people is to read them and highlight the important passages along the way. While that’s not a bad method, it’s not the most efficient and growth-inducing one.  

If you’re looking to be approaching texts with more efficiency and effectiveness, you’ll have to use the SQ3R method. 

Where the SQ3R get’s its abbreviation is from the five steps that you’ll be doing: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. 

Below is a detailed explanation of each of the five steps so you can apply the method yourself. 

1. Survey 

Most people study texts or self-improvement books by reading them and underlining key passages. While this isn’t a horrible strategy, it isn’t the most effective or growth-promoting. You’ll need to apply the SQ3R method if you want to approach texts more efficiently and effectively. 

SQ3R is an acronym that stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review, which are the five phases you’ll be taking. 

Each of the five phases is described in full below, so you can use the procedure on your own. 

2. Question 

After you’ve gone over the book, you’ll want to ask yourself some questions about it. Looking at the chapter titles and making them into questions is one approach to ease yourself into it. 

Make a list of these questions, and then ask yourself what you already know about the themes they’ll be discussing. It’s also critical that you consider why you’re reading this in the first place and compare your answers.  

You’ll want a book that can answer those questions if you’re reading it for a specific purpose. You’ll also get a sense of which chapters you should concentrate on in order to grasp the material completely. 

The purpose of the question step is to figure out what the author is trying to say to the readers. Also, feel free to write any questions you have in the left margin. You write down responses in the right margin at a later time. 

3. Read 

After all of everything is in place, you can begin reading, but not before remembering what you did in the preceding steps. As you read, keep the framework from step 1 and the questions from step 2 in the back of your mind. 

Pay special attention to the chapters, bolded sentences, and explanations under graphs and illustrations as you read. Make it a point to read actively, as in writing down additional questions as you go along and actively looking for solutions to the questions you’ve already posed. This entails noting down answers and explanations in the text as well. 

If you need to slow down, don’t feel bad about it. This phase encourages you to take your time with the more difficult or time-consuming portions. If you need to, go back and read it again. Simultaneously, pay less attention to trivial details or facts you already know. 

4. Recite 

Following reading, reciting is the next phase, which involves combining all of the material you’ve learned into your own words. You should use this time to rephrase your queries about the book and respond based on what you’ve learned from it.  

You might also try describing what you’ve read to someone else or to a fictional character. As an added bonus, consider writing a summary in your own words. 

5. Review 

The SQ3R approach concludes with a review. While you might assume that reciting is enough, reviewing is an additional step in reinforcing whatever you’ve learned. Regardless of whether it’s an educational work or a personal growth book, it’s critical to study and repeat content numerous times for it to stick. 

In either case, you’ll have notes or takeaways from the book, and it’s a good idea to go back over them and build on them.  

There may be more difficult parts or parts that you don’t grasp the first time you look at a text. However, after studying those sections a second or third time, you will be able to expand on your comprehension and the notes you made previously. 

It’s also worth noting that doing this step one day after completing the previous four steps can be incredibly beneficial. 


The SQ3R method is a structured approach that can help you gain a better understanding of a material and increase your overall comprehension. You’ll be able to eliminate extraneous information and focus on the more vital facts if you use this strategy. Furthermore, the different procedures enforced by the SQ3R approach will allow you to keep that knowledge. 


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