The SQ3R Method: Understanding to Remember

The SQ3R method is a study technique that can be very effective for preparing for exams or simply for learning something new. The technique is simple and can be applied to all types of content.
The SQ3R Method: Understanding to Remember
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 22 November, 2022

The SQ3R method, also known as the “Robinson Method,” is an active reading technique. Its purpose is to read and learn in a more effective way. It has positioned itself as one of the most efficient techniques in the world in this aspect.

Although it was designed for students, the SQ3R method is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their reading comprehension and learning ability. The model was created by Francis P. Robinson in 1946.

The name of the SQ3R method is actually an acronym, in which each letter corresponds to a specific competency, thus it stands for: Examine (Survey), Ask (Question), Read (Read), Repeat (Recite), and Review (Review).

How to apply the SQ3R method

the SQ3R method
The objective of the SQ3R method is to learn in a more efficient way.

The SQ3R method aims to contribute to the development of the ability to assimilate and retain new content. It helps to identify and understand the central ideas of a text or reading.

This technique also seeks to improve a person’s ability to evaluate texts from a critical perspective. So, how can you apply the SQ3R method? This is carried out in five steps, which are as follows:

1. Examine (Survey)

The first step in the SQ3R method is to examine or explore. It should be carried out in no more than 10 minutes and consists of a superficial approach to the topic to be studied. This is done by a quick reading of elements such as the table of contents, headings and subheadings, and highlights.

The objective is to obtain general information about the content of the document. This makes it possible to detect the general structure of the text and to formulate a first mental map of what it contains. Therefore, it’s the basis for everything else.

2. Ask (Question)

The second step is also brief and consists of formulating questions about the content that has just been explored. It’s best to focus your questions on those that arose from your initial examination.

It’s also important to identify the contents that are related to your previous knowledge. All this should take the form of a question. It can be written on a piece of paper, on the left margin, and then the answer can be written down on the right margin.

3. Read (Read)

The third step of the SQ3R method corresponds to active reading. It consists of reading the text carefully while trying to grasp the ideas developed by the author and the important data or details of the text.

This step should be done without rushing. In fact, it’s advisable to do a second reading to deepen the understanding of the text. If you find answers to the questions of the previous step, the correct thing to do is to write them down as indicated above.

If there are fragments that are incomprehensible, it’s advisable to reread them to understand them better. It’s also a good idea to try to repeat what is said there, but using your own words. This helps to reinforce your understanding.

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4. Repeat (Recite)

The fourth step is called repeating or reciting. It consists of putting all the notes aside and talking about everything you remember from the text, using your own words. The idea is not to be literal, but to translate the content into one’s own language.

Additional support in this step can be to elaborate critical questions about the topic. In addition, it is useful to make a general summary of what has been read. This not only helps to increase comprehension, but also retention.

5. Review (Review)

In this step of the SQ3R method, learning is consolidated. It consists of rereading the text and reviewing all the notes related to it. It is the longest phase and should ideally take place over several days, so that it can be better memorized.

“Extra” tasks

Initially, the SQ3R method only covered these five steps, but then two other tasks were added:

  • Record. This consists of writing down the most important ideas. It is also possible to make a synoptic table or a conceptual map.
  • Reflect. This involves a reflection on the material that has been worked on with the objective of making a critical judgment about it. It’s also a good idea to associate it with previous knowledge.

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The advantages of the SQ3R method

SQ3R method
This method is a simple technique that can be applied to any type of subject matter.

The main advantage of the SQ3R method is that it allows you to make the most of any content while assimilating and incorporating it into your existing knowledge. It’s also a simple technique that can be applied to any subject matter.

Additional advantages of the SQ3R method are as follows:

  • It contributes to the development of the ability to extract the main ideas of a text.
  • It increases the ability to prioritize content.
  • This method helps to optimize reading time.
  • It facilitates the establishment of links between previous and new knowledge.
  • It improves the relationship between time spent and learning efficiency.
  • The SQ3R is a technique that facilitates memorization.
  • It allows adapting learning to individual objectives.

Why should you use the SQ3R method?

One of the most interesting aspects of this technique is that it includes making critical judgments about the text. This is very important, as it goes beyond comprehension and encourages the production of original ideas of one’s own.

The SQ3R method is very practical. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to apply, since it includes only five steps that are easy to remember. When used well, it’s a very valuable time-saving tool!

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  • Ainciburu, M. C. (2008). ¿Basta repetir? Lógicas y vericuetos del proceso de aprendizaje de palabras en una lengua extranjera. Actas del Programa de formación para profesorado de ELE, 41-62.
  • Afanador, T. HACER UN RESUMEN. Acta Bioethica2014, 20(2), 271-277.
  • Cabrera Mejía, T. L. (2015). El uso de la técnica SQ3R (SURVEY, QUESTION, READ, RECITE, REVIEW) y su beneficio del idioma inglés en los estudiantes de los Décimos 13 y 14 de la Unidad Educativa Temporal Bolívar de la ciudad de Ambato, Provincia de Tungurahua (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad Técnica de Ambato. Facultad de Ciencias Humanas y de la Educación. Carrera de Idiomas.).