Self Help-SQ4R

SQ4R Method for Reading

  1. Survey
    Determine the structure, organization, or plan of chapter. Details will be remembered because of their relationship to the total picture.
    1. Think about the title. Guess what will be included in the chapter.
    2. Read the introduction. Here the main ideas are presented: the “forest” which must be seen before the details & the “trees” which make organized sense.
    3. Read the summary. Here is the relationship among the main ideas.
    4. Read the main heads (boldface type). Here are the main ideas. Determine where in the sequences of ideas each the headings is located.


  2. Question
    Having in mind a question results in (1) a spontaneous attempt to answer it with information already at hand; (2) frustration until the question is answered; (3) a criterion against which the details can be inspected to determine relevance and importance; (4) a focal point for crystallizing a series of ideas (the answer).
    1. Use the questions at the beginning or end of the chapter.
    2. Formulate question by changing main heads or subheads into questions.


    Example: Causes of Depression. What are the causes of depression? What conditions are usually present before depression occurs?


  3. Read
    Read to answer the question. Move quickly. Sort out ideas and evaluate them. If content does not relate to the question, give it only a passing glance. Read selectively.


  4. Recite
    Answer the question(s) in your own words, not the authors’.


  5. (W)Rite
    1. Write the question.
    2. Write the answer using only key words, lists, etc.


  6. Review
    Increase retention and decrease cramming time by 90% by means of immediate and delayed review. To do this:
    1. Read your written questions.
    2. Try to recite the answer. Five to ten minutes will suffice for a chapter.
    3. Review again in another week.



  • Active involvement in reading the text is important for comprehending and remembering the material being studied.
  • Use 3" x 5" index cards. Write the question on one side and the answer on the other (using key words, formulas, etc.). Use as flash cards — carry them with you and review when you have spare time.