Understand and remember using SQ3R

SQ3R is a tried and tested study strategy. It will help you understand and remember what you’re reading and studying, and help you identify the information you need to write an assignment.

SQ3R is an acronym that stands for

  • Survey (or Skim)
  • Question
  • Read
  • Recite (or Recall)
  • Review

How to use SQ3R

Survey or skim

Before starting to read or study, break the task down into manageable chunks, such as a chapter or topic, then survey or skim the section you're going to read/study.

  • Page through the text to get an overall impression.
  • Look at headings, bold or italicised print, graphics, boxed text.
  • Do you see anything familiar? Do you see anything new?


Think about the topic and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I already know about it?
  • What do I want to know about it?
  • What do I expect to learn about it?
  • What must I remember about it?


You’ll most likely have to read the text a number of times to make sure you understand it and can remember what it’s about.

  • Read right through the text and see how much you understand.
  • While reading, take note of the most important parts but don’t mark the text or make notes at this stage, as you may not have fully understood it or be able to identify the most important parts.

  • Read the text again. This time, mark/underline the keywords in the text.

  • Stop occasionally, and put what you have just read into your own words.

  • Re-read any parts that are still not clear.

  • Try to link what you are reading to what you already know.

If there are any new words/jargon/technical terms that you don't understand, look them up. If you can't find the meanings, check with your lecturer/tutor. If you need to remember them, write them down, together with the definitions.

Recall or recite

After reading, recall or recite what you have just read without looking at the text or your notes. 

  • Decide what the main points are.
  • Write them down, using your own words to explain what they mean.

It might help to tell another student or a family member what you have learnt, or pretend you have to teach the topic. Think about how you would explain it to someone who knows nothing about it.


Last but definitely not least, review the work you've learned. This step will help to fix the information in your long-term memory.