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  • How many times have you read a page of your textbook and couldn’t remember a single

  • thing about it? There are different ways you can approach the process of reading to retain

  • and understand the text. This tutorial will introduce a process called SQ4R, which you

  • may apply to both book and journal article reading.

  • SQ4R, what does that mean? It’s an acronym for the steps to effectively read and understand

  • text: Survey the section or chapter, write Questions for each heading and subheading,

  • Read the information one section at a time, Record important information by taking notes,

  • Recite the information out loud, and Review the information learned in that section. Let’s

  • look closer at each of those.

  • The survey step is intended to determine how the information is organized, and what it

  • is you need to learn. Take about a minute to read the headings and subheadings as well

  • as the final summary paragraph or conclusion.

  • Check out graphs, charts, images, and skim their descriptive captions. This will help

  • you visualize and make sense of the body text when you read through it later.

  • Now you should have a general idea of how this text is organized as well as its main

  • ideas.

  • Turn each heading and subheading into a question. Ask yourself what you already know about those

  • topics. Even if you don’t know much, this helps your brain associate the new information

  • with the old information and it becomes easier to remember. Use some of these question words

  • to get you started: which, when, what, why, where, how, and who. If it would make you

  • more comfortable, write down these questions to refer to as you read. Now you know what

  • to watch for and focus on for the next step: reading.

  • For the reading step, start by carefully reading the text, looking for answers to the questions

  • you created. Read one section at a time, reminding yourself of your questions for each section.

  • It’s helpful to take notes while you read. As you read write down definitions, details,

  • facts, and explanations of concepts. Be as brief as possible, use single words or short

  • phrases in place of sentences where it makes sense. You can use these notes later when

  • you answer your questions.

  • When you finish each section read your notes out loud to yourself. You will make more associations

  • in your brain between what you already know and what you are reading. This helps you to

  • retain the information for use later.

  • After you finish a few sections, look at your questions and try to answer them. Can you?

  • Explain the answers to yourself out loud, this will help to reinforce those associations

  • you made in the recite stage. If you had trouble, feel free to consult your notes, or even go

  • back and read the section again until you are confident that you know the information.

  • The concepts from SQ4R were designed for textbooks, but you can apply them to any other book or

  • journal article. For books, survey the introductory and conclusion paragraphs of a chapter to

  • pull out the key facts and information, these will help you formulate questions. For articles,

  • an abstract, introduction, and conclusion will typically be the key parts to survey.

How many times have you read a page of your textbook and couldn’t remember a single

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