» SQ4R Study Method

The SQ4R reading method is a useful technique for studying your textbook.  It is a process in which you survey, question, read, recite, “rite”, and review the material.

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Get a general idea of the content, structure, organization and plan of the chapter.  Your reading comprehension will be better if you don’t start reading the chapter “cold”.

  • Think about the title and subtitles.  These contain your main idea.  Think about the illustrations in the chapter.
  • Read the introduction of the chapter and the first paragraph.  Here you will find the purpose of the author and the main ideas.
  • Read the summary.  Here you will find the relationships between the main ideas.
  • Get the main thought out of the various paragraphs in the chapter.  Do not read the entire paragraph but use “eye catchers” or “clues” such as italics, boldface type, names, dates, numbers, etc.  Main ideas often surround such clues.


Having a question in mind results in (1) a spontaneous attempt to answer the question with information already at hand, (2) increased concentration and attention while reading to find an answer to the question, and (3) increased comprehension due to the mind’s activity in its attempt to find an answer to the question.

  • Use your knowledge you gained surveying the chapter as basis to ask yourself questions that you expect to find answered in the chapter.
  • Formulate questions by changing main heads and subheads into questions.  Example: Causes of Depression – What are the causes of depression?  What conditions are present when depression occurs?
  • Write down the questions and leave one or two lines for the answer.

+ - READ

Read to answer the questions, move quickly.  Find the ideas and evaluate them.  If content does not relate to the question, give it only a passing glance.  Read selectively.


Before you write, say the answer out loud until you formulate a good English sentence.

  • Get the idea in the author’s words.
  • Find the topic sentence.
  • Put the idea in your own words.

+ - “RITE”

There are several ways to write out answers.  Select the way that works best for you and is in line with what the instructor wants you to learn.  For example, if the instructor wants to hear your interpretations, write your own words.

  • Write down the answer in the authors words
  • Write down the idea in your own words
  • Write the answer using only key words, listings, etc. that are needed to recall the whole idea.  Use your own words, not the authors.  You can also put this on flash cards.


Use your questions and answers in your exam preparation.  You can increase retention and eliminate cramming time by regular review spaced over several days or weeks.  Practice by doing the following:

  • Read your written question.
  • Try to recite the answer.  If you can’t, look at your notes.  Five to ten minutes will suffice for the chapter.
  • Review again after one week.