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In the beginning, the Survey Q4R Method may seem strange or difficult. However, after you become familiar with the method, it will result in a far greater mastery of your assignment, with no increase in the time spent in studying. It has these advantages: you are learning to distinguish between main ideas and details; you reduce mind-wandering because you make frequent checks; you make brief notes-using your own words-which prepare you more adequately for tests; you are making the best possible use of the principles of memory; and you train yourself to answer questions as you would on a test.


Get a general idea of the content, structure, organization, and plan of the chapter. Your reading comprehension will be better if you don't start reading the chapter "cold." To begin reading your lesson without this bird's eye view is like beginning an automobile trip without a road map or without knowing where you are going.

A. Locate the exact pages of the assignment. Estimate how long it will take you and how much time you are going to spend on it now.

B. Think about the title and the sub-titles. These contain your main ideas.

C. Think about the illustrations in the chapter.

D. Read the introduction of a chapter and the first paragraph. Here you will find the purposes of the author and the main ideas.

E. Read the summary. Here you will find the relationships between the main ideas.

F. Get the main thought out of the various paragraphs in your chapter. This may be done by reading the topic sentence (often the first sentence, but sometimes the last), clues such as italics, boldface types, names, dates, numbers, " ", and the like. Main ideas often surround these clues.


Having a question results in (a) a spontaneous attempt to answer the question with information already in mind, (b) increased concentration and attention while reading to find an answer to the question, (c) increased comprehension due to the mind's activity in its attempt to find an answer to the question.
In surveying your textbook, questions may not stand out as readily.

A. Use the knowledge you gained in surveying the chapter as basis to ask yourself questions that you expect to find answered in the chapter.

B. One way to elicit these valuable helpers is to turn headings or subheadings into questions. Example: "Thickness of the Ionosphere" might become "How thick is the ionosphere?". "How Negative Thinking Slows You Down" becomes "What is negative thinking? How can it slow me down?". Once you start asking questions more will come to mind. You'll find your interest in your assigned work growing with each question. You may want to jot some of them down to be answered later through your reading. Remember: every second you spend in the Survey and Question steps are very worthwhile. Surveying will make your reading easier, and you will understand what you read better.

C. If there are no headings, ask questions that you think might be asked by your instructor.


Read to answer your questions. Your rate of reading will depend on your purpose, the difficulty of the material, and your familiarity with it.
Be a flexible reader; adjust your speed to your needs. If a word meaning is not clear to you through its use in the selection, reread. If it is still unclear, underline the word or jot it down and look it up when you finish reading. Especially in reading magazines and newspapers, ask yourself: What is the writer's purpose? What is he trying to get me to think or do? Is he giving facts or his opinions?


After you have read the first section, look away from your book and try briefly to restate in your own words the answer to the question. If you can't give the answer, reread the section.

V. "RITE":

After you have recited, write in a notebook the cue phrases to the main ideas. Write these notes in outline form.

A. Write the question. (One sheet of paper is to contain all the notes for this chapter-so keep it brief. Use abbreviations.)

B. Write the answer-use only key words, listings, etc., that are needed to recall the whole idea.

C. Be sure to use your own words and not the author's.


Increase retention; eliminate cramming by 90% by means of immediate and delayed review. You tend to forget most of what you learned during the first 24 hours. But remember that you can often relearn in a few minutes what took you an hour to learn the first time. CAUTION: You cannot relearn that which you did not learn well in the first place.

A. When your lesson has been read, look over your notes to get a bird's eye view of the various ideas and their relationships.

B. Check your memory by covering up the notes and trying to recall the main points.

C. Next, expose each main point and try to recall the sub-points listed under it.

D. Further, you should always go over your outline just before a test.

E. When you have a textbook on which you are tested at mid-term and the end of the semester only, it is a good idea to review at the end of each week, gradually accumulating several chapters to review; hence there is no need to "cram" for the exams.


Your eyes do not move in a steady flow of vision across the printed page. Instead, they pause on one word or group of words and then leap to another word or group of words, where they pause again; these pauses are called fixations.

If you make too many fixations per line or pause too long, you slow down your reading. One of the best ways to increase your reading speed is to increase the range of your eye-span and shorten the pause. The fewer the fixations you have per line and the shorter the pauses, the faster you will read.

You can decrease the number of fixations by developing your ability to read in thought-units rather than word by word. A thought-unit is a phrase or group of words that are used together to produce meaning. The following line is marked off in thought-units:

Bullet Bullet Bullet Bullet
When you go / to the store / please get / some butter

The eye sees by first focusing on the center of an object and then spreading outward in all directions. You can demonstrate this by moving your eyes from one dot to the other across the sample line above. You will also see the words with each fixation. For practice, read a few lines and mark the groups of words as in the preceding sentence. Then place a dot above the middle of each thought-unit as a guide for your eyes.

SQ4R Worksheets are provided at the back of this study packet.



the chapter as in the SQ4R


the chapter, highlighting in yellow or pink all materials of reasonable importance, including main ideas and all significant supporting details.


all highlighted material highlighting over the yellow or pink for all key ideas and important concepts with a contrasting color, such as green or orange.


the double highlighted materials one more time. Underline the main ideas and significant vocabulary. Write key words in the margin. When the material presents sequential or other enumerated ideas, list the key words and number them, also write in any questions, comments, conclusions you gain from reading


This is obviously a time-consuming process. Once done however, one really knows the material. A student should be able to review a 30-page assignment for a major essay test in no more than 15 minutes. Even a year later a student should be able to briefly review the chapter and discuss it knowledgeably or take a test on it.



Skilled learners are skilled question-askers of themselves and others.


1. STUDENT reads paragraph to a teacher, tutor, or friend (LISTENER)

2. STUDENT asks the LISTENER as many questions as he/she can about what was just read.

What if…?
Do you think…?

3. The LISTENER asks the STUDENT as many questions as possible about what was just read.

4. Go on to the next paragraph.

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