Use the SQ3R Method for Better Reading Comprehension

You can improve your reading skills by using a technique called the SQ3R method. This method helps in understanding passages, articles, and chapters. The steps are:

  1. skim
  2. question
  3. read
  4. recite
  5. review.

Step 1: Skim or Scan

Scan titles, headings, and introductions. Skim the entire text and any images; this will give you a good idea of the topics covered in the material. When you survey, you’re getting a feel for what you’re about to read. This helps you create mental goals on the important points to look for. Look over graphs, charts, maps, or any other visual aids that illustrate the main points. Connect any information to facts or ideas you already know.

If it’s a lesson you’re about to read, look for bullet points at the beginning that highlight the list the objectives; the objectives tell you specifically what you’re about to learn.

Step 2: Question

Start forming questions in your head about the content of the material. Try to determine the answers to the Five Ws and One H: Who? What? Where? When? and How?  

You can do this by converting the titles and headings into questions.

Example heading:

E-Cigarettes: Dangerous Chemicals Cause a Public Health Concern

Example questions to ask yourself:

What chemicals in e-cigarettes make it harmful? 

How do e-cigarettes compare to regular cigarettes?

Additionally, ask yourself some general questions such as, Why do I need to know this?  How will this information help me in this lesson or in the course overall? How will this information help me in my own personal or professional life?  and How does this fit into what I already know?

Step 3: Read

Read the text slowly and one section at a time. Don’t rush. As you read, use the questions you formed in Step 2 to find the answers. Make mental notes of what you’re learning; take notes on your computer or in a notepad of the key points in each paragraph. Create new mental questions if you need to.

As you read, look up words you don’t know or understand. Some good online resources are  and

Step 4: Recite or Recall

After you finish reading a section, take a few minutes to try to answer the questions you’ve come up with (or use any study questions given in the lesson). Figure out the answers to these questions without looking back at the text. Try to recall the information you read by talking about it out loud to yourself or writing down summaries. Turn it into a memory game to make it more interactive and fun.

Step 5: Review

After you’re able to recall the information, reread the text and go over your notes. Write down additional notes. Answer your questions again, this time double-checking that your answers are correct.

Check out this helpful video for more information.