Active Reading Strategies Part 1: SQ3R
What is SQ3R?
Step 1: Survey
- Read the blurb for context
- Skim the first sentence of every paragraph.
- IMPORTANT: Survey the questions, too! Put marks in the margins of the passage if you see questions that mention “paragraph 3” or “lines 11-18”, for example.
- Circle weird names and big words in the questions
Step 2: Question
Step 3: Read (R1)
- Underline and/or circle claims.
- Underline and/or circle key words.
- Make quick notes in the margins of the passage:
- Is the author supporting an idea? Circle a word or phrase and put a plus ( + ) in the margin next to it!
- Is the author rejecting an idea? Circle the phrase and write a minus ( – ) next to it!
- Is something surprising (to you or to the author or to a character/researcher mentioned in the text)? Circle or underline the thing and put an exclamation point ( ! ) next to it!
- Is something confusing (either to you or to the author or to somebody mentioned in the text)? Write a question mark! (?)
- Circle “the But”! Contrast words (eg: although, not, but, yet, however, nevertheless, in fact, etc...) signal a shift in the author’s argument, which is always important to pay attention to. Circling them is fun! – and it helps your brain pay better attention.
- Circle "the And"! Continuation words (because, since, therefore, and, additionally, etc...) signal that the author is about to emphasize or restate an important part of the argument. The same is true for semicolons! ( ; ) Pay attention to these!
TOP TIP: The most important claims and conclusions are usually found in the first and last sentences of a paragraph. On your first read-through, pay more attention to the bones of the passage, and less attention to the evidence that backs up those claims and conclusions. If you understand the structure of the passage first, you’ll know where to find the supporting evidence you need if and when you are asked about it.