SQ5R-Outline of major points

Here is a less wordy version of SQ5R that you might prefer.

• Look over your entire textbook prior to the first day of class.

• Skim the chapter you are about to read.

• Note the section headings.

• Read questions at end of the chapter before you read the chapter.

• Read section or chapter summaries.


• Before reading each section of the assignment, ask a question that will help you think about what you read.

• Use who, what, when, where, why or how.

• Use review questions at the end of the chapter as a guide.

• Asking questions before you read will help lead you to main ideas or key information.


• Read your assignment one section at a time.

• Read to answer your questions.

• Pay attention to facts, ideas, relationships.

• Pay close attention to bold text, graphs, tables & illustrations.

• Note whether or not you understand what you are reading.


• Reflect on what you have read.

• Make personal connections with the material.

• Does the material have connections w/ what you are learning in other classes?

• Write any important reflections or connections in your notes.

• Do you have any reservations, concerns, or opinions about the material? Ask for clarification in class.


• Take notes on what you read, even if you use a highlighter.

• Write notes in your own words rather than copying directly from the text.

• Write a brief summary for each section of text.

• If you use a highlighter, be selective about what you mark.

• Combine notes from your text w/ lecture notes.


• After you have finished reading the section, look up from the text and ask yourself “What did I just read?”

• Recite what you recall about the section to yourself.

• If you cannot remember, you should go back and re-read.

• Verbally answer the questions you came up with before reading.


• Immediate review facilitates retention.

• After you have read the whole assignment, go back and review the chapter.

• Ask yourself some test questions about the assignment.

• Plan to begin studying for finals on the first day of class! Take 15-30 minutes per class each week to look over all material that will be covered on exams

• Plan a special Weekly Review session once a week per class to review and test yourself on the material.

Adapted from Wong, Linda. Essential Study Skills. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 2006.

SQ5R (67% more R's than previous versions)

I have previously written in this blog about a study and reading strategy known as SQ3R. While this is still a valid strategy, there have been some changes to it over the years. The newest version of this method is now referred to as SQ5R with two more steps to aid in the overall retention and organization of information. Next week I will post again on SQ5R in a more bullet/outline form for those who prefer.

SQ5R (please be aware that there are as many different "R's" as there are individuals who utilize this strategy with students, so don't be alarmed if the strategy you learned previously has different "R's" than the one I am providing here) stands for survey, question, read, (w)rite, reflect, recite, and review. The strategy is an independent study method that aids in student understanding of the organization and meaning of written texts. It is a five-step procedure for making reading more active and improving student understanding of reading assignments. By providing structure and a concrete plan of action, SQ5R empowers students and provides a sense of control over reading tasks. And by requiring that students look at the reading several times and process the information in several ways, SQ5R enhances the registration and recalling of new information in/from memory.

One advantage of SQ5R is it may be used for reading assignments in most academic disciplines, including social sciences, physical sciences, and arts and humanities. The method, however, does not lend itself to numerically-oriented subjects like math and statistics. Additionally, SQ5R can be used for reading a variety of reading materials, including textbooks and journal articles, as long as the structure or organization of the material is not too complex. SQ5R has proven to be an effective strategy for most college-level reading tasks. Another advantage is that SQ5R is relatively simple and straightforward. As such, modeling and feedback by a facilitator usually is not necessary. SQ5R makes reading a more active process, helping to maintain attention and improve remembering.


The first step of the SQ5R strategy is to survey the reading assignment. Surveying involves creating a mental map of the text and selective reading.

To begin surveying, look quickly over the material for textual markers or clues about the manner of organization of the text. These include table of contents, chapter titles, headings and subheadings, and numbering systems. The organizational clues are used to create a "mental map" to help the student move through the material.

The mental map encompasses the general structure of the reading and is used to guide the student as he/she reads. By mentally linking the textual clues, the student is better able to follow the flow of ideas in the reading and to detect the relationships among pieces of information.

If the text lacks headings and other textual markers, the student should pay attention to paragraph breaks and clue phrases like "most important" and "in summary." Use that information to identify the author's main ideas and to create one's own headings in the margin. In fact, accurate mental maps made by the student can be more effective than those based on the author's headings.

Some students chose to record the organizational map on paper rather than to commit it to memory. There are a variety of recording methods; see the Organization page for ideas.

Developing a mental map is important because "detailed information can be remembered only if it is learned in relation to more important ideas" (Bragstad and Stumpf, 1987, p. 251). The map may also be used later when reviewing the text.

The second aspect of surveying is selective reading of portions of text (Bragstad and Stumpf, 1987). First, reread the title and think about it. What previous knowledge do you have about the topic? Can you recall any past experiences with the subject? What do you anticipate learning based on the title? Then read the first paragraph of the chapter or the abstract of the article. They should describe the main topics to be covered in the chapter or paper as well as the author's purposes or goals. Sometimes the results or conclusions will be given in the abstract. Reread the headings to refresh one's memory of the main topics of the text and to check the mental map for accuracy. Read the first sentence of each paragraph, and then read the last paragraph or the summary to get a review of the main concepts or conclusions. Quickly scan the visual aids like figures, photos, and tables.


The second step of SQ5R involves predicting questions that may be answered by the material. The questions are elaborations of the mental map developed in the survey phase, and they serve as an individualized knowledge framework or template to which details may be added later.

By actively engaging one's attention and curiosity, questioning provides the reader with a purpose and makes important ideas more obvious. The student creates meaning for him/ herself. Comprehension is aided by finding the answers to predicted questions when reading as well as by locating important information not covered by the questions. Predicted questions may be used later to study for quizzes and exams.

To develop questions, turn major headings and subheadings into questions. Draw upon previous knowledge and experiences to develop questions that may be answered while reading. Questions that arise while surveying the assignment should be recorded as well. The predicted questions can be compared to those at the end of the chapter. Numbering questions makes it easy to organize the answers later while reading.

With the mental map and predicted questions, one has prepared his/her own knowledge framework to guide reading of the assignment.


With the knowledge structure in mind, read the assignment one section at a time for content. Instead of focusing on isolated details, search for relationships among the main ideas and their supporting details. Look for information that answers the predicted questions, and take note of unexpected ideas.

The reader is advised to refrain from highlighting the text while reading because it may distract him/ her from the content of the text. A better approach is to jot down brief notes in the margins or to indicate the question numbers next to the portions of text that provide the answers.


Here is the step that is different in SQ5R. During the reflection state you are asked to reflect on what you have read. Then you are asked to make personal connections with the material. In other words, “does the material have connections with what you are learning in other classes?” Next, take a couple of minutes to write down any important reflections or connections in your notes. Finally, be honest about concerns or opinions that you have generated thus far. If you need to, ask for some clarification from a teacher or friend.


Here is another new step in the process. Here you will be annotating your textbook or taking notes of some kind. Remember to write notes as you read, Even if you are using a highlighter as a visual guide, it will not replace well-written notes. Make sure that you write notes in your own words rather than taking it directly from the book. This will aid in the memory and retention of the information. Following each section, be sure to write a brief summary of what you have read. A section could be a chapter, but could be shorter or longer depending on what you needs are. Finally, try to integrate your reading notes with your lecture notes whenever possible.


After reading each section of text, take a few minutes to recall the important points. In order to actively make mental connections among main ideas and details, recite them aloud or write them down. Go over the answers to the predicted questions and/or summarize the section. Recitations should be done without consulting the book unless necessary. Paraphrasing aids in understanding. Immediate recall is essential for registering the information in long-term memory. Without recitation, almost half of what one reads is lost from memory after only one day!


After reading and reciting the text section by section, review the entire chapter or article to see how the information fits together. This total review allows the reader to evaluate his/her understanding of the text, to organize all of the main ideas and supporting details, and to reinforce them in memory.

When reviewing, refer back to the headings and subheadings as well as the predicted questions and answers. Look at notes written in the margins while reading. Information that was underlined or highlighted may also be reviewed. Flowcharts, outlines, and other visual aids may be used to organize the important information, and they provide study aids for future exam preparation. In a few sentences, summarize the purpose and main ideas of the reading; write the summary down or say it aloud. Or, the information generated during the review may be recorded on audio tape for future referral.

Repeating the review process every weeks greatly improves one's ability to remember the information. And, it cuts down on preparation time for exams later.

Adapted from the “Learning Strategies Database” provided by the Center for the Advancement of Learning at Muskingum University.

Adapted from Wong, Linda. Essential Study Skills. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 2006.

See Also:

Bragstad, B.J. & Stumpf, S.M. (1987). A guidebook for teaching study skills and motivation (2nd ed). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon

McCormick, S. & Cooper, J.O. (1991). Can SQ3R facilitate secondary learning disabled students' literal comprehension of expository text? Three experiments. Reading Psychology, 12, 239-271.

Neal, J.C. & Langer, M.A. (1992). A framework for teaching options for content area instruction: Mediated instruction of text. Journal of Reading, 36, 227-230.


STOP, AIMS and DARE Writing Strategies

While I have tried to offer various strategies for reading or note-taking, I haven’t consistently provided writing strategies.  However, I would like to provide three separate, but interrelated strategies for writing persuasive papers in either high school or college. A persuasive paper is one in which a student takes a position on a particular issue.  A good position paper takes account of opposing sides then articulates clear support for the chosen position while countering refuting arguments.  This is not an easy task at any level, so it can be helpful to have a few ways in which to approach the task.  Therefore, I have provided three strategies you can employ when attempting to write a persuasive essay. Each of the three strategies is a 3-4 letter mnemonic that should enable retention and application.
The first strategy is STOP.
This strategy is useful in the planning stage of the writing process as you get ready to move into the writing stage.
S.  Suspend judgment by listing reasons for each side of a position before deciding on a premise.
-This allows you to open yourself up to the different possible sources of information as well as to put yourself in a position to better understand (then refute) opposing positions.
T. Take a position after evaluating the listed ideas.
-Taking your position after you have reviewed the issue will improve the argument.
O. Organizing ideas from strongest to weakest, or most important to least important.
-Persuasive arguments work best when you are able to prioritize your arguments, thereby focusing the paper.
P. Plan and write more while working on the essay.
-As you write you will continue to adapt to new information and new thoughts that come from your review and reflection of the writing.
The second strategy is AIMS
The second strategy is designed to help you craft an introductory paragraph that will launch your essay on a stronger footing.
A. Attract the reader’s attention.
-Create an opening sentence that gets the reader interested
I. Identify the problem of the topic so the reader will understand the issues.
-Briefly let the reader know that there is a difference of opinion on the issue and that you have chosen a side.
M. Map the context of the problem.
-Briefly explain how the issues have been debated over time and where major positions fall.
S. State the thesis so the premise is clear.
-Your reader should know here you stand and what you hope to prove.
The third strategy is DARE
This strategy is designed to help you develop paragraphs within the main body of the paper and guide you through the writing process.
D. Develop a topic sentence
-Your paragraph should being with a sentence that introduces the rest of the paragraph
A. Add supporting ideas
-The next 2-3 sentences should add support to that first sentence.
R. Reject possible arguments for the other side
-This is debatable. Some argue that you must demonstrate the weakness of opposing positions, while others argue that any inclusion of opposition is disingenuous since you are ultimately trying to win your argument. This is one area where you can leave it in or leave it out. Check with the specific instructor.
E. End with a conclusion
-Wrap up the paragraph with a strong concluding statement can also serve to transition your paper into the next paragraph.
Kiuhara, S.A., Oneill, R. E., Hawken, L. E., & Graham, S. (2012). The effectiveness of teaching 10th-grade students STOP, AIMS, and DARE for planning and drafting persuasive texts. Exceptional Children 79(3), 335-355.