The SQ4R reading method improves both comprehension and grades.

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recite
  • Relate
  • Review


Before you read the chapter, to get an overview of what lies ahead, survey:

  • The title, headings, and subheadings.
  • Captions under pictures, charts, graphs or maps.
  • Review questions or teacher-made study guides.
  • Introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • The summary.


As you survey:

  • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions.
  • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading.
  • Ask yourself, “What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?”
  • Ask yourself, “What do I already know about this subject?”
    • As an example, the heading “Stages of Sleep” might lead you to ask:
      • “Is there more than one stage of sleep?”
      • “What are they?”
      • “How do they differ?”

Asking questions helps you read with a purpose. (If it is helpful to you, write out these questions for consideration. This variation is called SQW4R.)


  • Look for answers to the questions you first raised.
  • Answer questions at the beginning or end of chapters or study guides.
  • Reread captions under pictures, graphs, etc.
  • Note all the underlined, italicized, bold printed words or phrases.
  • Study graphic aids.
  • Reduce your speed for difficult passages.
  • Stop and reread parts which are not clear.
  • Read only a section at a time and recite after each section.


After you’ve read a section:

  • Orally ask yourself questions about what you have just read (alternatively, summarize, in your own words, what you read).
  • Take notes from the text, writing the information in your own words.
  • Underline/highlight important points you’ve just read.
  • Use the method of recitation that best suits your particular learning style.
  • Remember to look for answers as you read and to recite or take notes before moving on.
  • Recite key terms and concepts.


  • It is easier to remember ideas that are personally meaningful.
  • When you study a chapter, try to link new facts, terms, and concepts with information you already know.


  • When you’re done reading, skim back over the chapter, or read your notes. Then check your memory by reciting and quizzing yourself again.
  • Make frequent review a key part of your study habits.

Another version of the SQ4R method


Adapted from West Virginia University at Parkersburg by Karen Kimmel for the Gallaudet University English Department

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