How to read a textbook

Cuesta College:

The following strategy, SQ4R, is built around the idea that what you do before and after you read is as important as the reading itself. Learning is an active process which requires concentration and energy. Understanding and using the following strategies will increase your comprehension and your retention of the information.

SQ4R = Survey – Question – Read – Recite – Record – Review


Look over a chapter for a few minutes before studying it in depth.

Read the title and introductory paragraph(s). Fix the name of the chapter in your mind. Often the introduction to the chapter supplies background for recognizing the purpose of the chapter. It may also state specifically the method of development the author intends to follow.

Read headings, subheadings, and italicized words. Go through the chapter heading by heading; these will form a topical outline.

Read the summary at the end of the chapter. Reread it to see which ideas the author restates for special emphasis or what general conclusions he or she comes to. If there is no summary, read the last sentence or two before each new heading.

Before reading: