Using SQ3R to Improve Your Reading Speed

The ability to read a lot of material quickly can be especially helpful to people in today’s information age.

An average reading speed can range from 200 to 350 words per minute, but that rate can vary depending on the material and your reading experience.

When faced with a pile of books, articles, memos and reports to read, a few simple speedreading tips can help.

One technique to help you save time and increase your capacity to absorb more information is SQ3R.

The acronym SQ3R stands for the five sequential techniques you should use to read a book:  Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review. SQ3R can help you create a good mental framework of a subject, into which you can fit facts correctly and get the maximum benefit from your reading time.

Here is a closer look at the five techniques in SQ3R:

Survey the document—Scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions and chapter summaries to pick up a shallow overview of the text. Form an opinion of whether it will be of any help. If it does not give you the information you want, discard it.

Question—Make a note of any questions on the subject that come to mind, or particularly interest you following your survey. Scan the document again to see if any stand out. These questions can be considered almost as study goals; understanding the answers can help you to structure the information in your own mind.

Read—Read through useful sections of the document in detail, taking care to understand all the points that are relevant. In the case of some texts this reading may be very slow. This will particularly be the case if there is a lot of dense and complicated information.

Recall—Once you have read appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Isolate the core facts or the essential processes behind the subject, and then see how other information fits around them.

Review—Once you have run through the exercise of recalling the information, you can move on to the stage of reviewing it. This review can be done by rereading the document, expanding your notes, or discussing the material with colleagues. A particularly effective method of reviewing information is to have to teach it to someone else!

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the reading skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds reading skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at


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