The SQ5R study method is one system for active reading. Actively processing information improves comprehension and retention of the material.
SURVEY Before reading a chapter or passage, read the introduction and summary. Skim topic headings, bold-faced words, pictures, charts, and graphs to get an idea of the general structure and content before beginning reading.
QUESTION Formulate a purpose for the reading by developing questions from the topic and headings skimmed in the survey step. Ask who, what, where, when, why, and how questions: the best questions are general, covering main topics and important points.
READ Break the material into sections that take about 20 minutes to read and go section by section. Look for answers to your questions, key concepts, and supporting details. Study charts, graphs, tables, and pictures, which serve to present new information and tie together concepts from the reading.
RESPOND After each section, think about the material you have just read and answer the questions you have asked. This can be done during the reading step, since response is often automatic. The purpose of this step is to think about the material and take notice of what is important.
RECORD Go back and underline key concepts and take notes. This can be done on a separate sheet of paper, on note cards, in the margins of the textbook, or any way that works well for you. (Do this after each section.)
RECITE Next, look away from the material and try to recite the key information and ideas in your own words. Re-read the material, if necessary, until you are able to recall the most important points. This may be frustrating at first, but will lead to better understanding and save review time in the long run.
REVIEW After reading the entire chapter, scan and review the information aloud or in your head. Discuss the material with a classmate if possible. Identify overall themes and relationships between concepts. Revise notes or markings so they can be easily understood later.