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As students, most of you know it is not enough to simply read an assignment. The act of reading does not insure that you will remember what you have read. Perhaps you daydream while you read, or maybe you are surrounded by noise, commotion, or interruptions. In any case, you can't recall a thing about what you just read. Sound familiar?
You need to be an active participant as you read and study. You can do that by practicing a technique that involves you in the learning process - SQ3R. Many of you already use part of the SQ3R technique if you preview material. You carry it even further if, as you read, you try to find answers to questions about the material. Both the previewing and questioning techniques are important steps in SQ3R, but there is more to it.
S = Survey
The S in SQ3R stands for survey (or preview). This should already be a familiar term to you. To review, the steps in the survey process are simple and take very little time. They are as follows:
1. Look at the title.
2. Read the first paragraph or introduction.
3. Read the first sentence of each of the other paragraphs.
4. Read the last paragraph or conclusion.
The survey step helps you in the following four ways:
1. You get a glimpse of the contents of the material without having to read every word.
2. You get a feel for your familiarity with the material.
3. You can estimate the amount of time you should set aside for covering the material.
4. You may actually double your comprehension when you do read the entire selection.
The survey process does all this in a matter of minutes!
Q = Question
In order to become actively involved in the actual reading process, you need to read with a purpose in mind. That is, you need to read to answer questions. Look at the following sources for questions you can answer as you read:
1. Questions listed at the end of the chapter
2. Questions provided by your instructor
3. Headings you turn into questions
4. Questions on worksheets, quizzes, and/or tests
Knowing the questions before you actually read the selection helps you read for a purpose. You will be an involved reader, and your comprehension and retention of the material will be greatly improved. Better yet, after you finish reading the selection, you will find you know the answers to the questions you had as you read.
R = Read
Try it. Read the material as an active reader with the goal of answering questions as you go
along. You'll be surprised at how much more you'll get out of your reading assignment, and you'll feel good when your reading reveals answers.
R = Recite
The next step is to recite the answers to your questions. Recite aloud to another person or quietly to yourself what you have read. Studies show that students tend to forget as much as 80% of what they have learned from reading within two weeks after studying. But when students recited immediately after reading, they forgot only 20% during the same time period.
Recite it, and then write it down, if necessary. This is the proof that you understand and comprehend what you have read-that you have been actively involved in the reading process. You know what you have read because you can recite the answers to questions.
R = Review
After a few hours, or even a couple of days, review the answers to your questions. This step will keep the material fresh in your mind, and you can retain it and recall it accurately for longer periods of time.
In addition, using the SQ3R method will save you from test anxiety and late-night crash study sessions, cramming for exams. SQ3R helps you learn and retain the material so you can approach a test with confidence.