The SQ4R Method

The SQ4R process is a highly researched, highly impactful reading strategy that will make your course readings become an interactive activity with you captaining your academic journey.

This process is a doubly beneficial strategy because while you’re learning you’re also creating, in real time, a study guide. One you can use to increase retention, cut down on time spent relearning, and make your pre-exam study sessions incredibly easier.

The SQ4R process consists of six steps. Let’s look more into each of these steps and see just how quickly and easily this process is to start using today!

Check out our visual resource for Critical Reading Strategies: SQ4R Process below!

Step 1: Survey
  • Read the textbook preface and introduction, then browse the table of contents to see the textbook’s main topics and organizational structure.
  • In each chapter, read the introduction and conclusion, scan the titles and subtitles, and study any pictures, charts or graphs.
  • Read the chapter summary and any end-of-chapter questions.

Step 2: Question
  • Take the section title, subtitle, or first sentence of a paragraph and turn it into a question.
    • e.g. “Functions of the spinal cord” becomes “What are the functions of the spinal cord?

Step 3: Read
  • Read carefully, note any important terms and concepts, and look closely at any pictures, tables, or graphs.
  • Try to find the answer to the question you created and ask questions as you read.

Step 4: Respond
  • When you’ve finished reading, close your textbook and answer the question you created in your own words.
  • If you can’t answer the question, reread the section and try again.
  • If you still can’t answer the question after a few tries, read the next section to see if things become clearer. You may find that you need to change your question to one that is broader or more specific.

Step 5: Record
  • Once you have read and understood the material, summarize it in your own words and make a record of it.
  • Record this by creating your own set of notes, marking and highlighting your text, or some combination of both.

Step 6: Review
  • Do a thorough review of your notes weekly; make connections between any lecture notes and your textbook notes.
  • Check your understanding of the concepts by quizzing yourself (similar to step 4).
  • Regularly reviewing the material will help you remember the information longer, meaning you won’t have to relearn it before an exam.

Conclusion: How can SQ4R help?

It’s a strategy that can help you retain information and reduces the amount of information you need to relearn at the end of the semester. By following all six steps, you can create helpful study material to reuse in exam preparation.

Critical Reading Strategies: SQ4R Process [Visual Resources]

Looking for more strategies and tips?
Check out MUN's Academic Success Centre online!


Linn Benton Community College. (n.d.). Reading strategies. Linn Benton Community College: Learning Center. Retrieved February 21, 2022 from

Memorial University of Newfoundland. (n.d.). The SQ4R method. Memorial University of Newfoundland; Academic Success Centre. Retrieved February 21, 2022 from

University of Auckland. (n.d.) Reading actively and effectively. University of Auckland: Learning Essentials. Retrieved February 21, 2022 from

University of Cincinnati. (n.d.). SQ4R: Getting the most from your textbooks. University of Cincinnati; Learning Commons. Retrieved February 21, 2022 from

University of Guelph. (2022). Reading textbooks with SQ4R. University of Guelph: McLaughlin Library.

University of Hawaii, Manoa. (2014). SQ4R method of study: A reading technique. University of Hawaii, Manoa: Learning Assistance Center.

University of Wisconsin: Oshkosh. (2018). SQ4R method. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: Center for Academic Resources.

York University. (2013). Student papers and academic research kit: SQ4R reading strategy. York University.