SQ3R Plus

 SQ3R+ is Reading plus Mental Processing

Level 4. The reading is difficult and you must learn the material well.

You will notice this is exactly the same as SQ3R with additional steps so you study while you read. The additional steps are labeled “PLUS: 

S means Survey.

  1. When you survey a whole book, as you should at the beginning of the classGirl using SQ3R+ takes notes as she reads
  2. Learn  the title. Know who the  authors are and learn something about them.
  3. Study the table of contents. Try to understand how the material is organized.
  4. Look through several chapters to see how they are organized.
  5. Check the back of the book: the index,  glossary or other helpful information.
  6. Think about what you already know on the subject.
  7. Decide looks especially interesting to you.

Yolanda, the girl in the picture, decided to use SQ3R+ senior year for her advanced classes.  For the first few weeks, it seemed like a lot of work. Now she finds it only takes a little longer and she is enjoying the challenge. She is learning so much more than before and needs very little time to review for tests. She’s been reviewing all along.

Just look at her smile.  In every class where she uses this method, she is making an A. Before using this method, Yolanda was a little worried about how well she could do in college. Now, she’d tell you she isn’t worried about college. She  knows she’ll do well, even in the most difficult classes.

PLUS:  From what you know about the book so far, create either a Concept Map, Outline, or Timeline to show how the book is organized. The timeline is appropriate only in a book organized over time… perhaps a history book.

PLUS: On a separate sheet of paper labeled with the book’s title and date, write a list of 10-20 questions. When you write many questions you are more likely to ask some that are GOOD Questions.  Include questions you’d expect to find on a test. Write questions about topics that seem most interesting.

When you are ready to read a chapter or section of a chapter, do another survey. Look for the

  1. Title and subtitles
  2. Bold words or phases
  3. Information in boxes
  4. Illustrations
  5. Introduction and Conclusion
  6. Questions at the ned of the chapter

Plus: Create an outline, concept map or timeline to show the main ideas and how they are related. With an outline, leave several spaces between main ideas so you can add information as you read.

Q means Question.

Write a list of questions. Start with questions you think your teacher would expect you to answer, questions that might be on a test. Then write questions about things you would most like to learn on the subject.

The first R means Read.

  1. If you see a large number of new vocabulary words, list them and write definitions. This will make the reading easier to understand.
  2. If there is an introduction or conclusion, read those first.
  3. If there are questions at the end of the chapter, read those next.
  4. Most people divide the reading into sections. This is easy is the book has section headings and subheadings.
  5. As you read, take reading notes. List the Main Idea in each section and underline it. Then list other important information or details that you think you should learn or want to learn.

PLUS: As you read you will find answers to some of the questions you wrote. Write the answers. Continue to add new questions and answers as you read.

The second R means Recite.

  1. Look away from your notes and go over the main idea and details. You can do this mentally. You can recite aloud. You could also recite by writing the information down. Then check your notes to see if your memory was complete and correct.
  2. If you didn’t really understand the material, go over it again, reading slowly and carefully.
  3. If you still don’t understand, don’t just skip it. You might check the topic on the Internet and see if that helps. You might call a classmate and ask them to explain it to you. You might need to ask the teacher to explain it to you. But, most of the time, when you go through the material three or four times, you will understand.
  4. If you understood the material but forgot a lot as you recited, go over your notes carefully, and if necessary, read the section again,  and recite again. Repeat this until you remember the information completely and correctly.

Plus: Stop and try to expand your Concept Map, Outline, or Timeline.

Plus: Answer questions if possible and add new questions.

Plus: Think about what you just read. Thinking is an active process. Thinking it is interesting or boring or confusing isn’t really thinking. It is reacting. Think about why the author organized the material this way.  Identify statements of fact, of theory,  of description, of opinion, or of explanation.  Would you disagree with any of it?  If so, why?

Plus: How do these ideas relate to what you already know on the subject? How do they relate to your personal experience?  What seems most important to remember. What method could you use to remember this? Can you visualize the information? What might you compare with this information.

  1. Then go to the next section and repeat again and again until you finish the chapter or must stop for the day.

The third R means Review.

Review is a lot like Recite. You begin to Review when you finish reading the chapter or assignment.

  1. It is best to review the material within an hour, or sooner if it is difficult,  and then again before you go to sleep. Review at bedtime is very helpful because your brain makes connections while you sleep helping you remember more of the material and you will remember it longer.
  2. After the first day, it is best to review the material twice a day for a few days, then once a day, then twice a week, once a week, etc. Before a test, you might go back to reviewing every day for a week, especially at bedtime. You should then be ready for the test.
  3. If you decide to remember the material for final exams or forever, put your notes in a Review Notebook and review them once weekly, twice a month, monthly, etc. As long as you continue regular reviews – even in once a year, you should be able to remember the information for as long as you want.

PLUS: The best way to review material is Self-testing. Test yourself on the vocabulary. Test yourself by answering your own questions.  Test yourself by re-writing your Outlines and re-drawing your Concept Maps.

Plus: In the first or second review think about the Concept Map, Outline or Timeline you created. You should now either do a more detailed versions or use a different method to organize the material. The more ways you organize the material the more you will understand and remember.

Plus: As you continue to the next chapters, decide if you want an outline, concept map, or timeline or combination of these for the entire book, for each chapter, or for something in-between.  It is often most helpful to have a Concept Map to show the Main ideas and how they are related – and also a detailed outline to include all the important details (that don’t fit easily on a concept map.) Some students also choose to write a one page summary of each chapter. These, plus important diagrams can all be reviewed in preparation for a test.

Answer remaining questions if covered in the chapter. You can check the index or try the Internet. Then, add to your list of questions. These questions should be much better than the questions you asked before reading. Think about what makes the questions better.


Yes it takes longer to read this way, but many students go back and read the assignments again before a test. If you read carefully, learn the vocabulary, understand the material, recite and review, you should never need to read it again. You should know the material well and remember much of it long after you finish final exams.

NOTE: Many high school students never need to use this level of reading. It would be smart to use it in a few of your classes because you will find it extremely helpful in college.

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