Getting the Most Out of Your Textbook: SQ4R. Learning Assistance Center (LAC) University Pavilion, Suite 120 (513) 556-3244 www.uc.edu/LearningAssistance. SQ4R. S – Survey
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S – Survey
Glance through all the headings in the chapter, and read the final summary paragraph (if the chapter has one). This survey should not take more than a minute, and it will show you the three to six core ideas on which the discussion will be based. This orientation will help you organize the ideas as you read them later.
Q – Question
Now begin to work. Turn the first heading into a question. This will arouse your curiosity and thereby increase comprehension. It will bring to mind information you already know, thus helping you understand that information more quickly. The question also will make important points stand out from explanatory details. You can turn a heading into a question as you read the heading, but it demands conscious effort
on your part.
Read so as to answer that question, but read only to the end of the first section. This
should not be a possible plodding along each line, but an active search for the answer.
Read several paragraphs; then go back to the first paragraph and ask yourself, “What do
I need to know in this paragraph?” Read and reread until you find out.
R2 – Recite
Having read the first section, look away from the book and try briefly to recite the
answer to your question. Use your own words, and cite an example. If you can do this,
you know what is in the book; if you cannot, glance over the section again. An excellent
way to recite from memory is to jot down brief cue phrases in outline form on a sheet of
paper. Now repeat the second to fourth steps for each successive section: That is, turn
the next heading into a question,
R3 – Write
Once you have identified and can briefly say aloud what you need to know, underline
only the key words, phrases, and sentences that identify this information. Write brief
notes on the right hand column of the page, jot down answers to the questions in an
abbreviated form, just enough to jog your memory. Later, when you review, your
notes, your eyes will immediately focus on these. Jot in the margin an ever-so-brief
question that asks for the information underlined. Question forming is very important in
this system. Go through the entire chapter paragraph by paragraph
R4 – Review
When you have read through in this way, look over your notes to get a bird’s-eye view
of the points and their relationships to each other. Check your memory by reciting the
major sub-points under each heading. This can be done by covering up your notes and
trying to recall the main points. Then expose each major point and try to recall the
sub points listed under it.
Reading can be challenging! But developing this skill will be invaluable to you in many of your classes, particularly those like economics, physics, philosophy, medicine, law,
history and psychology to name a few. Like any other skill such as playing the piano or basketball or working algebra problems, spending time developing this skill will eventually make reading more easily. The more you do it, the simpler it gets, and the
more enjoyable it becomes.
1.Give Yourself Enough Time: Because essays always propose a line of reasoning, if you stop in the middle, you run the risk of forgetting what came before. Not only do you have to read the whole essay, but you have to understand it too. A large part of that understanding involves
following the process of the author’s reasoning. So, give yourself plenty of time to read completely through the assignment.
2. Use All Available Study Aids: If you are reading from a textbook, make good use of all the study aids the author or editor(s) offer. Read the introductions, summaries, glossaries, and indexes. Examine the study questions, take advantage of any section headings, margin notes and boxed passages if your textbook offers them. All of these are instructional features that can help you read the book more easily. Take advantage of them!
3. Grant All Ideas a Fair Hearing: One good rule to follow when you are reading is what’s called the “Principle of Charity.” If your instructor asked you to read the material, he/she most likely thinks that there is something valuable to be learned from the essay. Be charitable. Grant all ideas a fair hearing, even if (and especially if) you do not agree with them. People have the most trouble understanding and remembering ideas they disagree with, so this is something to work on.
4. Read and Reread: You can rarely read an essay just once and completely understand it. Some writings demand careful, slow and repeated reading. Reread as often as you need to, to understand what the author is saying. However, don’t spend so much time rereading the passage that you get discouraged.
5. Change Your Surroundings: If you are experiencing a great deal of frustration or difficulty with your reading, consider finding a new place to read. If you are tired, distracted, uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty or whatever, you may have difficulties with our reading. The better you can make the atmosphere, the better your comprehension is likely to be.
6. Read Actively: Always read actively –that is you must be constantly asking yourself: What is the main point? Why did the author just say that? What are the author’s reasons for believing this? Do I agree or disagree with this point? Keep a pencil, a highlighter, a pad of sticky notes, or a note pad handy. Mark passages that seem important or passages that you don’t understand. However, don’t highlight every sentence! Also, annotate as you read. Comments may be as simple as “huh?” or “Yes!” Use your notes to ask questions to mark passages you don’t understand, or indicate you agree or disagree and what you think are the significant parts of the essay.
7. Keep A Dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is a good comprehensive dictionary that can often be found on sale for a reasonable price. A paperback pocket dictionary will not be adequate. Many of the authors are from a multitude of scholarly areas and tend to use large and sometimes obscure words. So using a good dictionary is critical.
8. Stop And Summarize What You Have Read: After you finish a section or a page, pause and see if you can restate what the author is saying in your own words. As you read, regularly stop. Close your eyes and mentally summarize the main points of what you have read. If you are ambitious, actually writing your summary down is even better; since it helps you remember what you’ve read.
9. Look for the Essay’s Main Point: On your first reading of the essay, you should be looking for the author’s conclusions. Ask yourself: What is the author trying to prove? Just grasping the main point is a large enough part of the battle. If there are passages or details that you find particularly difficult even after reading them several times, skip over them and you will understand them better.
10. Identify the Essay’s Premise: Once you understand the point or points the author is trying to prove, you need to figure out what his reasons are. On your second reading, ask yourself: Why does she think her conclusion is true? As a rule, all essays offer a chain of ideas, or premises. Premises are meant to provide reasons leading to the overall conclusion. The primary task in reading is to identify the author’s premises and conclusions.
11. Talk to Your Instructor: If you still do not understand an essay after following all these suggestions, then you should consult your instructor. Your instructor is one of your most important resources and is more that happy to help. Clarify, or just chat about your readings.
The following is some of the findings which research has discovered about the use of study aids.
• Students who use study aids well use the hints, study aids, or prompts that textbooks and teachers have provided for them.
• Students may also create various study aids of their own, including highlighting in their textbooks and taking notes in class or while reading.
• The study aids which students use helps them make the information which they are studying more meaningful to them.
• Study aids also increase the student’s ability to remember new information in ways that are easier for them to recall.
• The use of study aids is often effective in increasing the student’s ability to select main ideas and important information in their courses.
Textbook’s Title: The title describes what the whole book is about or how the author will approach the topic. Making note of the title of the text will give you some idea as to its contents.
Table of Contents: This Study aid lists all of the main topics of the text. This will help to understand the text’s organization and the relationships between the different sections of the text.
Chapter Titles: As with the book’s title, the chapter title will give you some idea as to the contents and main topics of the charter.
Chapter Preview, Outline, or Objectives: Chapter previews will give you an understanding of how the chapter is organized and the main topics that will be covered in the chapter. Chapter objectives will help you learn what the author thinks is important in the chapter.
Review Questions: Is it sometimes helpful to look at the review question prior to reading. These will help you identify what the important information is in the chapter.
Chapter Summery: Reading the chapter summery prior the toe chapter will give you some idea as to the type of information you should be finding as you read. Chapter summaries may appear at the beginning or end of the chapter.
Web Web-Based Material: Many textbooks have web addresses where supplementary material can be found. These can include additional text, extra problems and exercises, streaming videos and soundtracks. These help the material become more meaningful.
Supplementary Material: Many textbooks are published with supplementary material such as workbooks, extra readings, and additional sample problems.
Headings: Headings give you an idea of what you are going to read and the organization of the text. Using headings will allow you to make connections between what you have read and what you are about to read.
Marginal Notes: It is important to use both marginal that are provided by the texts publisher and make marginal notes for yourself in the text. Marginal notes can include definitions, questions that you have, connections with other texts you are reading, or notes to your self about other references to use.
Review Questions: As you read think about the review question your author has provided or make up your own. These will help you organize your thinking, remember what you are reading, and concentrate on the material at hand.
List of Key Terms: Using lists of key terms allows you to look up their definitions before reading so that they are readily accessible while you are reading. You can also write definitions for each of these terms as you read about them.
Glossary: Use the Glossary to help find the definition of words in the intended meaning of the textbook. This is an excellent resource when reading highly technical language.
Append Appendix: Often graphics, special descriptions of a technique, tables that can help you work exercises in the text, and other aids can be found in an appendix. These can be used to help understand the meaning of the text.
Index: Many times words or topics in a text are defined or explained in another part of the text. The index will help you to locate where else this material is discussed. This will help you better arrive at a better understanding of the text.
Chapter Summaries: Summaries help you organize your thinking and find relationships among the main ideas. It is also important to write your own summary once you have read a chapter.
Review Questions: By answering review questions you test your knowledge about what you have just read. You can then review the answers before continuing on to the next chapter and make connections to the new text you are reading. Review questions can come both from the book and from the professor.
Suggested Readings or References: Looking at lists of other readings or references can aid in your understanding of the material. This is especially true if you are having trouble understanding the particular text you are reading. Reading a similar text by another author sometimes helps one to understand the information.
Often, creating your own study aids can be more helpful than solely using study aids that are provided by your text book. While creating your own study aids, you are reviewing the material you are to be studying and processing the new information more thoroughly. There are many different types of study aids which you can create yourself. Some of these include:
• Taking notes both in class and while doing you reading. This way you can have a reference to all the information that you are encountering.
• Creating diagrams and charts for the information you are presented with will help you see it in a different light. Diagrams can help you to understand complex relationships.
• Creating summery sheets will help you to review the material you have just read or heard. Putting the information “in your own words” also helps to make the information more memorable and relevant.
• Underlining or highlighting you text and notes helps you to identify and remember important material. It also helps on to locate specific information that one might need to find.