How to Read Textbooks

Use the SQR3 method of reading to be an active and effective reader. The passive reader learns little. The aggressive reader organizes information and answers questions. SQR3: survey, question, read, recite, review.

The SQR3 Method of Reading

Survey the chapter.
Read the introduction to the chapter.

Look over the major section headings. Glance at the figures.

Skim questions, key words and summaries at the end of the chapter.

Create a context for remembering information.

Generate interest and a sense of what is important.

Plan your study session. Set a time limit for working. Include breaks and rewards.


Question. Create and answer questions.
For each section in the chapter, ask these 4 basic questions:

1.    What is the main point?

2.    What evidence supports the main point?

3.    What are the applications or examples?

4.    How is this related to the rest of the chapter, the book, the world, to me?


Read the section.
Skim or read the section actively. Search for the answers to your questions.

Make notes in the margins to create your own organization (see below).


Recite the main points.
Look up from the book and verbalize the answers to your questions.

Talk out loud and listen to the answers. Recite to remember.


Now go back and highlight or underline the main points in the section.

Add more notes in the text and margin.

Repeat SQR3 for each section; mini-survey, question, read, recite and review. When finished, create a one page hierarchical summary of the entire chapter.

Now do any homework assignments. Use your summary first, then the text.

Review often and reward yourself for a job well done.


How to mark the book. (Only do this to YOUR personal property! NOT THE SCHOOL'S TEXTBOOKS!!)
Do not highlight or underline main points while you read. Most students make too many marks. Wait until you've finished a paragraph or section, then mark.

Mark the text and the margin to outline the structure of the book. For each main point, indicate evidence, examples, steps, proofs, connections to other points, definitions and your own thoughts. The book holds the information. Your marks create organization. Mark to simplify review.

More on SQR3...


SQR3: Method for Quick Study


Ø    A survey is a quick preview or overview of an entire textbook or a single chapter.

Ø    Read the title. This helps your mind prepare for the subject at hand, and it also lets you know what the chapter/text will be about.

Ø    Read the introduction and/or summary. This helps you focus on the main points that will be discussed in the chapter. You can also determine what the author wants you to understand or be able to do after you read the chapter.

Ø    Always pay attention to headings and subheadings. These will indicate the details to come and will also reveal the author's method of organization and development of topics.

Ø    Pay attention to charts, graphs, maps and diagrams. These provide lots of information in an easy to read/understand format.

Ø    Note whether key words or terms are italic, boldface, defined within the text, or listed at the beginning or end of the chapter. The author is trying to call your attention to these bits of facts, so pay due notice. In other words, know what these terms or key words are and how they are used.

Ø    Look for any problems or questions for discussion at the end of chapters or sections. These will help you determine which concepts the author wants you to apply.



Ø    Questioning helps your mind engage and concentrate on what you are reading.

Ø    Turn boldface headings and subheadings into as many questions as you think will be answered in the section you are reading.

Ø    Turning headings into questions directs your reading so that you can find the details and examples that support major points.

Ø    As you read each section carefully, try to find the answers to questions you formed from the headings.

Ø    The better the questions, the better your comprehension will be.



Ø    Read slowly and carefully, concentrating on one section at a time. Don't worry about how long you take because you are trying to absorb ideas, not become a speed-reader.

Ø    Read each section with your questions in mind.

Ø    Do not skip unfamiliar words or technical terms. If you cannot infer their meanings from context, look them up. Be sure to reread the sentence in which each new word appears to ensure you understand it.

Ø    Try to determine the main point of the section. Summarizing the main point in your notes or in the margin of your text will aid your recall when you review.

Ø    Always read through the section again, especially if it seems particularly technical or complex. Be sure to underline main ideas and/or key thoughts.

Ø    Writing down the author's ideas in your own words also aids your recall.

Ø    Creating notes, underlining or highlighting, and constructing study guides are essential to active reading.



Ø    Recitation is an essential aid to memory and comprehension.

Ø    At the end of each section that you read, try to state, aloud or silently, the important points covered.

Ø    If you have trouble doing this, then you probably have not understood the section and you need to reread it. Don't move on to the next section until you can recite.

Ø    If the central idea comes easily to mind, then you can be confident that you understand what you have read.



Ø    Review a chapter immediately after you finish reading it.

Ø    Review by skimming back over the chapter looking over any notes you made in the margin. Do they still make sense?

Ø    Reread any passages that you underlined or highlighted.

Ø    Go back over all the questions from all the headings, and see if you can still answer them. If not, refresh your memory and continue.