As a high school or college student, or just someone looking to learn, being able to read and learn effectively from a textbook is an absolutely critical skill. Pulling information out of the text, being able to remember it, and then translate that to answers on the test and knowledge that you will hold onto is a huge challenge that almost all students face. But how to improve reading comprehension? There are many different methods both old and new that attempt to solve this problem, but one method that will help us more than most is the SQ3R method.
SQ3R is an acronym for an effective study method and reading strategy. It stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.
It is a reading method that breaks down your textbook and the way you read it so that you can take the information in over gradual steps, without forcing yourself through that last minute, late night cram session that leaves you exhausted and without actually learning the material. It can make sure your mind is working to full capacity the entire time you are reading over your material. As you will see following, the sq3r study method emphasizes the importance of retrieving information.
The first step in this method is to Survey the part of your textbook you are currently focused on, usually a single chapter. Look it over for bold headings, pictures and diagrams, important vocabulary, and maybe even read the introduction, just to get a general idea of what you are looking at. You could also go through and read the first sentences of each bold heading, just to gain a most basic understanding of the topics in the chapter. By doing this, you prepare yourself for what you will be learning. You will also be able to set an allotted amount of time that it will take to complete the studies for this chapter. Preparation is key, even when you reading!
The second step is to Question the things you found when you surveyed your text, and also to consider the questions listed in the text and given by your instructor. You need to develop a list of questions about the chapter and information in said chapter that is the most important. What do you need to find in this chapter to gain the most you possibly can, and yes, to complete the homework assignment and pass the test.
Next, go ahead and Read the chapter. By looking for the answers to the questions you came up with in step 2, you will be actively reading and your mind will be accepting more information than if you were just reading without a goal. You will find that you can learn much more when you are reading with the goal of answering all of your questions, and you will feel good when you reach your goal and answer those questions.
After reading, you need to Recite the answers to all of those questions you asked yourself. You can do this out loud, write them down, read them over again. Whatever you choose to do, go over those questions and repeat the answers to them once over. However, you need to be sure that you can put these answers onto paper or say them out loud without reading them. Recognizing them as correct is one thing, but you need to be able to state the correct answers outright.
The final step is to Review the information, your questions, and the answers to your questions. This step can be completed after just a few hours away or even a few days, or even better, both of those times plus a few in the middle. The more you go back and review your material, the more it will stay fresh in your mind and the longer you will be able to call on that information before it slips away from your mind. Reviewing frequently will also help you to reduce test anxiety and apply that information on test day.
Overall, It will help you break down your information and make it easier to understand, as well as help you convert that information into knowledge and long term memory. This is a proven study and reading method that works for many people, as it lets you absorb information slowly and truly understand what you are trying to learn.