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graphic of each part of the SQ3R strategy

Reading and Writing Strategies

SQ3R: Survey-Question-Read-Recite-Review

SQ3R is a comprehension strategy that helps students think about the text they are reading while they’re reading.


Often categorized as a study strategy, SQ3R helps students “get it” the first time they read a text by teaching students how to read and think like an effective reader.

This strategy includes the following five steps: 

  • Survey: Students review the text to gain initial meaning from the headings, bolded text, and charts. 
  • Question: Students begin to generate questions about their reading from previewing it. 
  • Read: As students read, they need to look for answers to the questions they formulated during their preview of the text. These questions, based on the structure of the text, help focus students’ reading. 
  • Recite: As students move through the text they should recite or rehearse the answers to their questions and make notes about their answer for later studying.
  • Review: After reading, students should review the text to answer lingering questions and recite the questions they previously answered. 


Do you have students who get to the end of reading their textbook selection and have no idea what they’ve read? These students can benefit from using the SQ3R because it requires them to activate their thinking and review their understanding throughout their reading.

It also dissuades students from waiting and then cramming for tests since the five steps requires them to review information and create notes during their initial reading. Their notes from the initial reading become their study guides.

Create and use the strategy

As with its sister strategy Question-Answer Relationship (QAR), SQ3R requires the teacher to model.

  1. Explain to students that effective readers do many things while reading, including surveying, questioning, reading, reciting and reviewing.
  2. Choose a content area passage to read and model the five SQ3R steps. 
  3. During each step, make sure to explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  4. After your modeling session, invite students to independently read a selection and practice applying the SQ3R steps. This could be completed as an in-class or take-home assignment.
  5. Afterwards ask students to review their notes and reflect on the process. Were they surprised by how much they remember by using the SQ3R method?
  6. Students may not be “sold” on this strategy the first time they try it. Not all readings will be worth the time it takes to complete the SQ3R steps, so help students to understand not just how to apply it, but when to apply it.

Related Resources


Fisher, D., and Frey, N, (2004).  Improving Adolescent Literacy: Strategies at Work. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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