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Francis Robinson's SQ3R method of effective reading


The process of skimming a text to locate key ideas before reading a text (or a chapter of a text) from start to finish.

Prereading (or surveying) provides an overview that can increase reading speed and efficiency. Prereading typically involves looking at (and thinking about) titles, chapter introductions, summaries, headings, subheadings, study questions, and conclusions.

See also:


  • "To be successful today, it not only becomes necessary to skim, but it becomes essential to skim well."
    (Shreeharsh Kelkar, quoted by Alan Jacobs in "We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading." The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 31, 2011)

  • "Prereading strategies allow students to think about what they already know about a given topic and predict what they will read or hear. Before students read any text, teachers can direct their attention to how a text is organized, teach unfamiliar vocabulary or other concepts, search for the main idea, and provide students with a purpose for reading or listening. Most importantly, teachers can use prereading strategies to increase students' interest in a text."
    (Danny Brassell and Timothy Rasinski, Comprehension That Works. Shell Education, 2008)

  • The Purpose of Prereading
    "Prereading encompasses all of the things that you do, before you start reading, to increase your capacity to understand the material. In many cases, taking just a few minutes to learn more about what you are about to read can dramatically increase your reading comprehension and retention. . . .

    "If you build the big picture before you start, you begin reading the text with a conceptual framework already in place. Then, when you encounter a new detail or a new bit of evidence in your reading, your mind will know what to do with it."
    (Michael Austin, Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. W.W. Norton, 2007)

  • The Four Ps
    "Prereading includes four steps: Preview, Predict, Prior Knowledge, and Purpose. You can remember these steps by thinking of them as the '4 Ps.'

    "Previewing is taking a quick look at a reading before trying to understand the whole thing. . . .

    "[In predicting, you] look at clues from what you read, see, or already know to figure out what information you are likely to get from the reading. . . .

    "Prior knowledge is what you know about a subject before you begin a new reading about it. . . .

    "The fourth 'P' in prereading is purpose. . . . Figuring out an author's purpose will help you understand what you read."
    (Content-Area Reading Strategies for Language Arts. Walch Publishing, 2003)

  • Questioning
    "Begin by having students identify their purpose for reading. Then, lead students in generating a list of prereading questions that will help them to achieve their purpose."
    (Successful Strategies for Reading in the Content Areas, 2nd ed. Shell Education, 2008)
Also Known As: previewing, surveying
Alternate Spellings: pre-reading
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