SQ3R is a strategy for reading and remembering. It is an acronym that stands for:

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recall
  • Review

It is not purely a speed reading technique but moreover, a holistic approach to reading for thoroughness and memory. It is often associated with study and with the requirement to absorb quantities of detailed information.

As you will see, it incorporates some of the types of reading we have already described earlier in this lesson.


Remember, this is the rapid preview stage of reading where you begin by checking through the materials. This is when you are seeking to answer the key questions of:

Is it what I need? 

Is it up to date?

Is it right for the task?

Are all the contents relevant – or only some?

Which will form a basis for the next part of the strategy. 


One of the most important pieces of guidance for increasing and maintaining concentration is to actively engage in the materials. If you take a questioning approach your reading will be active and meaningful.

You can achieve this simply by asking yourself questions like what point is the author trying to make, what is the real meaning of a passage or a chapter, how could this be differently expressed, or what are the arguments for and against the point being made?


Having surveyed and questioned, it is time to read the materials carefully. To do this you should choose the type of reading that best suits you and the circumstances, whether this is:

  • Sampling
  • Skim reading
  • Scanning
  • Detailed reading
  • Rapid reading
  • Speed reading


The second of the ‘Rs’ in the SQ3R strategy is recall. After reading through a section of the material (and remember, this might be a study text, a contract, an email, etc) make some notes for yourself that summarise what you have just covered. It may help to make annotations as you go along.

Make a point of recalling the main points at the end of each passage or chapter, whether by recitation or by re-writing them. This is how you transfer the information from your short term to your long term memory.


Finally, now that you have completed the reading and recalling of the materials, revisit it once more. At this stage you can iron out anything you do not understand or any inaccuracies and also address any areas that you have not been able to recall.

What do you think of the SQ3R concept?

Do you think it might be useful to you in a study or work environment?

If you are a person who likes strategies or frameworks it may work well for you. It can be used for any type of learning or reading and can also be used as a revision strategy for examinations.

Remember, there is no absolute right way to read, it is about what works for you and gets you the best results.


Using a piece of text of no less that 500 words in length, apply the SQ3R technique and critique it as you go along to determine whether it is a constructive model for you to work with.