Tag Archives: how to study well

How To Study

How To Study, A Method Called SQR3

The buses are rolling again. Fall is around the corner and parents are relishing the once again quiet of an empty house.

Kids look forward to going back to school with varying levels of anxiety and anticipation. A big part of their anxiety is rooted in their lack of true study skills.

This post is about fixing that problem.

Steps To Successful Studying

There is a five step study method that has been taught by teachers who want their kids to succeed. Its acronym is very easy to remember and helps one recall each stage. SQR3 is the acronym.

SQR3 steps are:

  1. Survey
  2. Question
  3. Read
  4. Recite
  5. Review

Using Survey To Get Started

The definition of the word ‘survey’ is to look carefully and thoroughly at someone or something, especially so as to appraise them. In our case that something is the material that you are trying to master.

I think it helpful to list a few synonyms. Making the decision to ‘survey’ a thing is not a daily routine for most. Survey is generally thought of as a ‘poll.’ As in, “We are taking a ‘survey’ or we are taking a ‘poll.’

Here are those I think will help you survey your study materials efficiently.

    • contemplate
    • scrutinize
    • inspect
    • scan
    • look over
    • consider

Basically, to survey the material you should just flip the pages, scanning to learn about how the material is organized.

Does it have comment boxes surrounded by borders?

Does it have boxes marked “Important Tip” or something similar?

Lots of times there will be boxes in the margins entitled things like “Did you know?” “Something to think about.” Anytime you see this, you know the author thinks this is particularly relevant the subject. You are also likely to see this information on the test, so, you are forewarned.


Ask yourself:

      • What is this material about?
      • Why is this important to me? (Aside from passing a test.)

What does it seem to be saying is important? What is it that the author is trying to teach me? Make a few notes about things that seem to stand out.


Read the material. Do I mean just speed read while your favorite show is taking half your attention? While I suppose it would be better than nothing I doubt it will maximize your comprehension.

When I say read, I mean:

      1. Immerse yourself in it.
      2. If there are audiovisual resources or other resources listed on line, make sure to watch or read them all.
      3. Read at a comfortable pace, moving back and forth in the material, looking for connections amongst the various points made.
      4. Take your time, moving slowly enough to absorb the material, fast enough to keep yourself from getting bored.


Recite means to read the material out loud. Recite it to the world through the main window. Recite it to your dog. I am sure he will love the attention. Recite it while sitting …everywhere you sit.

Why? You know, I do not have an authoritative explanation, but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

Reading only involves he sense of sight and to a much lesser degree, touch.


      • Involves the sense of sight as does reading.
      • It also involves the sense of sound.
      • If you pace when you recite you are tying all kinds of sensory input to the material.

To sum it up, your eyes see it. Your ears hear it again directing the knowledge to your brain through a second channel. If you pace as you recite you are tying the knowledge to even more sensory input.


Now that you have completed this process, review what it is you now know. How much do you think you have learned? This process can be repeated until you are satisfied with your retention.

Closing Comments

Folks tend to learn best when their studying is disciplined and regular. A fixed study time is helpful because setting one teaches the brain to quickly drop into a learning mode at the appointed time.

Also, they tend to retain smaller chunks of knowledge at a time so pick a time period somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour.

As long as it presents no health problems for you, eating just a little bit of sweet, like a teaspoon of honey, before each study period can enhance retention and comprehension. Why? Most likely it is because the brain is 90% fat by weight and uses exclusively glucose as an energy source.

While it is not part of the SQR3 method per se, I have found it helpful to take intense notes during class and apply the SQR3 method to my notes as well. Using highlighters, clips and post its can also further enhance retention by providing more things to which information can be attached.

I really hope this helps. It is applicable to any and every thing which one wants to master, whether we are talking about 6th grade civics class or PDFs on how to master SEO or how to work from home.

Best Regards,






Tim Singleton

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How to Study

How To Study

How to study is something I revisit every once in a while. Why? It is the embarrassingly high rates of enrollment in remedial classes in even 4th string community colleges. Clearly the system is failing and more money will not fix it.

Why Should I Worry About How to Study?

“I Pass Everything,” you say.

The question of how to study is seldom asked before asking the question of why do I have to study, especially if you are under the age of 18. Again, especially if you are passing the tests and homework assignments.

Read This Frightening Note:

High school, as demonstrated by the previous mentioned high rates of remedial class enrollment, does not prepare your for college.

College, as demonstrated by the high rates of unemployment even amongst college graduates with honors, does not prepare you for the workplace as it exists now.

This is not your fault. The simple fact is that you and education have different goals.

But enough of telling you things you already know at some level. You came here to see if I could help you study, didn’t you?

SQR3: Still One of the Best Methods of Study

SQR3 is a method that has been around a long time. I cannot say for sure who invented it; I can only say I appreciate my abnormal psychology professor teaching it to me. Yes, I made a high A in his class, too.

SQR3 is an acronym that stands for the following:



R:Read (R1)

R:Recite (R2)

R:Review (R3)


Look over the materials you are asked to master. Take time to look at the chapter headings and any introductory paragraphs or notes present.  Take note of what is written in bold or in boxes off to the side. Check to see if there are summaries after each section or chapter. Look to see if there are any study questions after each section or chapter.

Read the captions under the pictures, graphs or any other inserts that may be present. Also, look for anything highlighted with a legend such as ‘important,’ ‘Did you know?’ or ‘will be on the test.’ Some places use a student book and an instructors manual that may include prepared tests. Many teachers will use those tests verbatim.


You have surveyed the chapter or chapters you need to master for now. Ask yourself what is it that the author is trying get across to you. What is it that he or she thought was important about this information? What is it the author wants you to know? Why is it important? Ask yourself why someone would bother to write about this subject. How can this knowledge benefit you in the future?


Read the material in its entirety. Yes, all of it. Throw your Cliff’s notes away. I had an English teacher who would read the Cliff’s notes specifically to design a test that could not be passed from the information contained in them.

Read the material, taking time to read everything that is boxed, highlighted or otherwise marked so as to bring the reader’s attention to it and ask yourself how it relates to the rest of the information in the main body.


Now that you have read it all, read it again. Only , this time do it out loud. This makes the information come to you by more sensory channels. Not only is it going through your eyes to your brain, but your brain is translating it to speech and again processing it as an auditory source of information all while you are again reading and relating the boxes and highlighted remarks.


Ask yourself what you learned. Did it stick? Did any part of it strike you as interesting? Did you learn something that helped you see something you came across in every day life differently?

Take the tests at the end of the chapters. How did you do? I bet you did better than you expected.


In closing, you will want to subdivide the material into 30 minute sections. Some folks can handle hour long sessions without a break. I like thirty because it makes for smaller, more easily digested chunks of information. I have also read studies saying a teaspoon of honey or a small amount of simple carbohydrates such as glucose is useful in helping your brain retain the information it is processing. Notice I said a spoonful, not a candy bar.

This method is applicable to everything from history to math to English. Some classes are aimed more at information mastery while others are aimed at application. This method helps with information mastery, even in mathematics. The application of the information is like anything else. I found that doing my homework in mathematics two, or even three, times was key to a higher test grade and long term retention.

Hope this helps.

Tim Singleton


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