Have you ever read an entire page of a textbook or learning module and realized that you can’t really remember anything about what you just read? This happens to many students: your eyes are looking at every word on the page, but nothing is going into your brain.
How to Read Your Textbooks
One way to solve this problem is to use a reading method called SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review. It’s easy to use, and will help you get more out of your reading, and be better prepared for studying.
The basic ideas of SQ3R are:
- Prepare for reading - glance through the chapter or module (Survey) and read any questions about the chapter before you actually start reading.
- Read in very short sections (even one paragraph at a time can be a good idea!) – stop and check your understanding of what you just read by recalling it, asking yourself Questions and explaining it out loud to yourself in your own words (Recite).
- Choose key words – using notes or a highlighter (if allowed) identify key words that will trigger your memory when you go back to study. Be careful not to highlight too much or copy the whole text in your notes.
- Study (Review) by looking at each heading or sub-heading in your chapter or module and trying to recall and explain the material to yourself. If you can’t do it, use your notes or highlights to trigger your memory and try again.
- Review frequently. Educational research shows that many short study sessions are more effective than one long study session.
If you’d like more details about using SQ3R or want to learn about more strategies to improve your academic reading, remember that you can meet with the Learning Skills Coordinator on your campus.
Here are some more resources about reading textbooks and other academic material: