Best Practices, Education, Learning and Development

Strategies for SQ3R

SQ3R is a strategy to facilitate reading depth. Survey. Question. Read. Recite. Review.

How do you get learners to participate in the five steps? It’s easier just to read the material and hope you remember enough to get the learning coordinator to stop asking you questions.  Let’s look at a step by step approach that may have your audience participating in all five steps without realizing what you are achieving.


Scan the reading. Looking at headings, sub-heading, pictures, captions, intros and summaries.

Before your audience has the opportunity to jump right in, ask what the reading is about. Then conduct a brief discussion of what is already known.  Ask questions about charts, graphics, basics of the reading content.

For younger learners:

My students love a word search. I feel there is value in this as they learn to look at the big picture and improve their scanning skills.  When we have a reading that I want to focus on, students will begin by performing a word search. They have to highlight specific words that I have chosen and will only have a limited time to perform this task.

We then discuss each word and I ask them to predict the content and purpose of the reading. Discussing what they already know and how the topic relates to previous discussions.


The audience should then take time to read the work. Ask them to focus on questions previously discussed. Remind them to read captions, titles, and subheadings.  Give time for this and don’t talk through it!  Most people cannot focus in there is chaos and conversation around them. If it is important enough to have your audience read, then give them the quiet time needed to absorb the information.

For younger learners:

Depending on the reading ability of your students, you can have them read silently or read aloud.  Sometimes I will read to my students, and sometimes we will popcorn read. I will call on people to take over at various pause points in the reading. Everyone is responsible for reading along, and knows at some point it may be their time to read.

Reading to your students models good reading. Students prior to high school can absorb more difficult content when it is read aloud to them. Reading aloud helps to foster literacy and reading appreciation.  It lets students know that reading doesn’t have to be boring.  Here are few good articles for the benefits of read aloud:

Reading Aloud: Is it worth it?

Reading Aloud to Build Comprehension

Read Aloud: What are the benefits?



Note the text. Highlight key points. Make notes in the margins. Write questions that the text raised. Challenge the text. Take this a step further and discuss what was read, raising questions and challenges. Make connections. The more senses that can be used in this step the better.


The review stage is an ongoing process and depends on the purpose of the reading.  For a step off of the learning topic, it may be simply referring back to the reading during the time frame. For classroom instruction it may be making the connections to learned content and new content.  Is this a resource to be studied later?  If so, more notes about the work and writing answers to the recite stage questions may be necessary.

SQ3R does not have to be a long drawn out process. Each step can be condensed and adjusted for learner needs and presenter purpose.  It is easily adaptable for individual needs.