Hope you’re all doing well!
Back to school season is upon us! I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! For me it feels kind of weird and exciting because this will be the first back to school season in which I will not be in school or university because I graduated this past June.
Anyways, in my many years as a student I always struggled to keep up with the assigned readings because I always felt that I would forget everything I had read by the time exams were coming up.
Throughout my college years my Psychology professors really encouraged us to use the SQ3R method as a technique for helping us remember many of the important things we were reading in the textbooks. The SQ3R method consists of the following five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.
Before you start reading simply open to the assigned pages and casually skim through them to get an overall view of how the information is being presented. If possible read the chapter summary, look at the chapter introduction, headings and subheadings.
Look at each subsection and try to come up with questions that you think will be answered in that subsection. Try asking yourself questions such as: What is this section about? How can this information help me? How does this information relate to other things that I have learned? Try to keep these questions in mind as you read that section and of course, as you are reading you may come up with even more questions. The reason why this step is helpful is because the more actively your mind searches for answers the more engaged you become in the learning process.
When it is finally time to read, try to answer the questions that you have created as you read each section. Also, try to relate this new information with things you’ve learned before.
After you have finished reading each section try to remember (create a written and/or mental list) of the main ideas discussed in each section. If there is a particular section for which you cannot remember the main idea then try to go back and reread that section. It is very important not to move on until you can remember that sections main ideas.
Finally, go back through all of the questions you created and see if you can still answer them. If necessary go back and refresh your memory.
Why is the SQ3R method effective?
The SQ3R method is effective thanks to a phenomenon social scientists and education researchers refer to as the testing effect. According to the testing effect, long term retention of material is better when you test yourself while you are learning the material versus just studying the material over and over again.
Sometimes we might read something and feel like the material is familiar and we may feel overconfident about how much we understand what we just read. Its important to remember that just because you can recognize something as being familiar as you read it, doesn’t mean that you will be able to choose the correct answer from several similar or familiar concepts on a multiple choice test. Of course, on a written exam it is even harder because simply recognizing things doesn’t help, you actually have to recall the information.
Overall, the SQ3R has been supported by research as an effective study technique because it forces you to remember the main ideas and answers on your own which in turn makes you much more prepared to take the exam.