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StudySQ3R

SQ3R
Skim
Question
Read
Recite
Review

This study method will allow you to read for comprehension much more efficiently.  This method will take longer than reading the material once, but less than reading it twice.

If you are the kind of person who can read stuff just once and retain it, this is not for you.  But if you're not some kind of mind-mutant and you've read something two or more times and still don't feel like you got a handle on it, this method will save you time and still increase your knowledge of the material after reading it.

The principles behind this study method ...

Remember that this method is a skill that takes practice to get good at it. Even with no experience at all with SQ3R, you'll find that you still do better at reading for comprehension and retention than if you had just read the material two or even three times.  With experience, you'll get even better and faster at using this method.  Which will give you more time to devote to your basket-weaving habit.

Accomplish the following steps, in order...

Step One: Skim

This step involves deciding how big a section of material you should digest at once.

It is important that you do not apply this study method to too large a section. You will waste your time.  If your textbook is fairly dense, without many pictures, then perhaps you will want to start with just a few pages.  If your chapters are small, perhaps just do one chapter.  Or if you see a severe change in thought in the material, you may want to make that your stopping point so that you can tackle the new thought in the next SQ3R pass.  Once you do it a few times, you'll get a feel for what works best for you.

Start at the beginning of your section and skim the material until you think you've reached a good stopping point.

Do not read every word.  Do not read every sentence.  The purpose here is just to plant a small seed in your mind as to what is to come.  Glance at the first sentence of about every paragraph to see if it looks like the main point of the paragraph.  If it doesn't, just move on.

In this step, we are not looking for any kind of retention at all. If you don't feel like you're remembering anything, that's okay.  Just keep going.  This is meant to be a fast step.

When you get to the end of the section you have chosen, stop.  Begin the next step.

Step Two: Question

Go back to the beginning of the section you just skimmed.  You'll skim through it again, but this time, you will come up with questions regarding the main points you just skimmed over.  It will probably be best to speak these questions out loud.  If you're reading for increased comprehension, jot them down on a sheet of paper.  Just pose the question, ponder about it for just a sec, then move on; you don't need to answer them yet.

Think of as many questions as you can concerning all the main points you hit when you skimmed the first time.  Try to make your questions the kind you might see on a test.

Good Questions
What was the significance of the raid on Harpers Ferry?
Who "won" the raid on Harpers Ferry?
Who did the raiding on Harpers Ferry? and why?
Why was Kansas called "Bleeding Kansas"?
Whose blood was shed in Kansas that gave it that name?
What did the Missouri Compromise do?
Who supported the Missouri Compromise?
Stupid Questions
What was the toll on Harpers Ferry?
What blood type was Kansas?
What is the state bird of Missouri?

This is also a skill that gets better with practice.  If your questions seem dumb or too simple, that's okay.  Just go with it.  You'll get better.

Remember to stop when you get to the end of the section you've chosen.

Step Three: Read

O Joy! Now you're finally ready to actually read every word.  Since you've skimmed through the material twice, you should have an idea of the flow and direction of the material.  This will help you keep structure to what you're reading and know what is important to the focus of your material.

As you are reading, you'll probably gain more information so that you will be able to add to your list of questions.  Also look for the answers to the questions you've already posed.  If you don't know the answer, and you feel like the material already covered it, go back and find the answer.

Remember to stop when you get to the end of the section you've chosen.

Step Four: Recite

Go back to the beginning of your section and talk yourself through your material out loud.  Do not re-read every bit.  Pretend someone asked you the question, "What was that section about?"

Also recite to yourself the answers to the questions you've come up with.  If you can't do this from memory, go back and find the answer and recite it to yourself again.

Remember to stop when you get to the end of the section you've chosen.

Step Five: Review

Go back to the beginning of your section and glance through your material one last time.  See if you can answer all the questions you've taken down from memory.  Look up the answers for those you can't.

Stop when you get to the end of the section you've chosen.

If it's been a long section, give yourself a break.  Stand up and stretch, go get a drink, step outside for some fresh air, or whatever.

You are now much more equipped to handle a test on this material than a person whose read the material even three times.  You've tested yourself, and you'll find that many of the questions you've posed are ones that your instructor will ask as well.  Once you've used this method for a while, you'll discover more and more of the questions that you've posed yourself are the very ones on your tests.  It's because you'll learn to ask better questions.  It's almost like cheating.

Now pick out your next section and work your SQ3R magic on it, starting at Step One.

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