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SQ4R speed reading tips
The SQ4R Method will help you keep studying organized and efficient.
The steps to SQ4R ( Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Record, Review) are explained
in the steps below.
Glance over the material to get a feel for what you will be reading.
Survey the entire text
When you first receive the text, spend about 20 minutes skimming the entire
textbook to acquire an overall understanding of how the book is organized.
- Read at the title page.
- Read at the copyright page.
- Read at the table of contents.
- Read the preface.
- Read at the ancillary material (appendix, glossary, bibliography, and index)
- Read at any illustrations (including charts, graphs, and tables)
Survey each chapter
Survey a chapter assignment before you actually read it. Survey should tell the scope of the content, how different topics are organized, and what the author's
purpose and point of view are. The chapter survey will also give you sufficient background
information for class notes.
- Read the chapter title.
- Read the chapter objectives.
- Read the chapter summary or review.
- Read the major headings and subheadings.
- Read the visual aids.
- Read the italicized and/or underlined words and terms.
Survey the illustrations
Our society is visually oriented; authors and publishers are well aware that effective
use of illustrations in textbooks is more necessary than ever. Illustrations can literally
replace hundreds of words and convey a message more dramatically and quickly than a
comparable section of text. Formats range from equations, theorems, and formulas to tables
and graphic illustrations.
Ask questions before, during, and after reading the material
As you survey the material, ask the questions about what you will be reading and
what you will try to answer. Turn the headings and subheadings into questions. These
questions give you a real reason for reading and will help you concentrate on the subject
you are reading.
Imagine, as you read the textbook, that the author is speaking directly to you.
Question the author statements. Challenge the ideas presented. Textbooks are not the A final word, but are a means of actively involving you, the reader, in the learning
process. Do not passively accept the author is presentation of material; look at it
critically and read with a questioning and searching attitude. Ask the standard questions:
what, why, and how.
Read for the main ideas and organization
Now you should read actively with these certain questions in mind and attempt to answer
the questions and organize the material. These answers will be the important facts and
details. Read everything in a chapter including any of the visual aids such as picture
captions, graphs, charts, etc. Note any words or phrases that are italicized, underlined,
or in bold print (there=s a reason this material is highlighted!) The tendency in reading
is to keep going, but you should stop at the end of each section to see if you can answer
the questions you asked at the start of the section.
Find the main ideas in each chapter or section. Textbook authors write as you
have been taught to write: they develop a topic sentence and/or paragraph, substantiate
it, and draw conclusions.
Concentrate on what you are reading. Try to feel the rhythm of the author's
prose (short, snappy sentences or long, labored explanations) and then "go with the
flow." Note particularly the headings and subheadings; they indicate the relative
importance of each topic.
Study the illustrations. These serve as "pegs" to help you remember
the major points being discussed in the text.
Summarize aloud what you read
Recite the main ideas, in other words, aloud or to yourself, after finishing a page.
Check the comprehension and make sure you have the correct information. Do the same for
the major points after reading each section or chapter.
By reciting what you've read, you are able to see how much information you absorbed,
areas you didn't understand and need to review, and answers to the questions you generated
for yourself. If you cannot answer the questions, go back to the material and reread.
Marking the textbook increases understanding of the material for the present and
for future reference. The process of selecting and marking requires you to find the main
ideas. Later, when you review the text for exam purposes, you will find that the textbook
markings and highlights enable you to grasp the essential points without having to read
entire paragraphs and chapters again.
Write down the central points for the chapter or section in the notebook. Do each
assignment before class. This will prepare you to participate in class discussions which
will, in turn, help you remember the material you have read and to put it into
Underline and make marginal notes
Underlining key words and sentences will make those items stand out in
Marginal notes give you the opportunity to question a statement or position
taken by the author as well as making you select the key words or items you want to
remember from the paragraph.
Summaries enable you to write a brief summation of a section in other words.
Develop your own system of reading. Use whatever facilitates your retention of the material
and works best for you. You might use the following: a double underline for main ideas and
a single underline for supporting points; a bracket to enclose several consecutive lines
that are important, rather than underlining all of them; or a box or circle around key
Read before you mark. Read a few paragraphs or sections and then go back over
the material and underline those topics and/or words that you feel are important.
Be selective. Underline only those points that are clearly essential. You will
then have a visible outline of the major points on a page.
Use other words. Marginal notations and summaries should be in other
language so you can readily recall the original material as you review. Using
the text in this manner enables you to extract all that the book has to offer you in a
learning situation, now and in the future. You will be able to use the texts for review
in later softwares in the same field or in an allied field, thus reducing the need to
re-read the material. You will reap the most benefit from reviewing the notes in
the text, rather than being distracted by notes you may find written by some other person
in a used text.
Coordinate class notes and textbook notes
Read the textbook material on time and prior to the corresponding class or
lecture if at all possible. You can then follow the instructor's thought more easily,
separate important points from lesser details, and have class notes become more
meaningful to you.
Develop your own note-taking technique for each class. Many students use only
one side of the paper for class notes, leaving a 2- or 3-inch margin on the left side of
the page for writing key words and labeling.
Combine the text notes and class notes. Do this by writing class notes on
the right hand page of the notebook and transferring text notes to the appropriate
left hand facing page. You can then easily review all the information gained from class and text reading.
Reviewing is an essential part of retention. Review the textbook notes shortly after
you have written them and continue to review them periodically.
Spend a few minutes going over the earlier notes before beginning a new reading
assignment. This will help you keep the overall picture of the author's development in
mind and will let you place the new material properly within that arrangement.
Review any and all supplements to the text. These usually contain quizzes and
self tests on material in the text which will prepare you better for examinations.
Constantly review throughout the software will greatly reduce the time you will need to
spend preparing for exams and will make that time less stressful ("cramming")
and more relaxing ("reviewing").
Speed reading techniques