How to use the SQ3R study method for writing essays

Getting into to groove of studying is not exactly easy! It can be hard to know what works for you. There are so many different types of ways to maximise your productivity and become more efficient when you are studying but it can also be overwhelming to think about. One of the most common methods used by students is the SQ3R method. If you haven’t heard of it, you have more than likely already given it a go whether it be in class or during your revision.

What is the SQ3R method?

The SQ3R method consists of 5 parts: survey, question, read, recite and review. The method can be used for different types of studying including tasks in class, revision for exams and writing essays or reports.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the SQ3R method

Every method will have its advantages and its disadvantages. While every student is different, it can be worth trying out different methods every few weeks to see which you are more suited to.


  • It is thought that students who use this method are able to retain more information
  • Students can develop certain soft skills including critical thinking and organisation
  • Increases productivity
  • This method gives a structure of how to study allowing students to create a solid base of knowledge before the next few steps
  • Learn how to process systems


Despite the many advantages, there can be some drawbacks of choosing this method to study:

  • This method might not be great for everyone, we can learn and study different so for some people, this method will just not work.
  • It is not great for visual learners
  • It can be slightly more time-consuming depending on how long you take to read and write

girl sat at a desk reading a book with notes all around her on the desk

How does it work?

The SQ3R method is most commonly used for writing essays – but you can use it however it helps you. The SQ3R method works as follows:


The first thing to do is to survey your content. This means scanning the headings and subheadings of any articles or class notes to refresh your memory or get more of an insight into the types of mini topics there are under your main topic. Pay attention to any diagrams or tables as these tend to stick in your mind a bit better. I also like to scan the end paragraph of an article to get an overview.

Next, read over the first and last sentence of each paragraph. By doing this you are informing yourself of the main points, you know where all the information is located if you need to read further, and you know where the more important information is.

Try and give yourself around 5 minutes to do this.


The next part of this method involves questions, specially creating your own study questions. Your aim here is to take the main topics that pop up, or the main headings in the piece of work/ article you are looking at and tur them into questions. Sort of like mini research questions. This is so you can give yourself a purpose. It shows you are clear on your questions when it comes to the reading stage. Questions force you to find out unknown information straight away rather thatnit cropping up later in your studying.

By creating your own questions instead of following your lectures questions, it gets your brain thinking and you automatically start planning ahead.


After scanning and sorting out some mini research questions, you can move onto the reading. Whilst you are reading you need to be finding the answers toy our questions. This way your reading is done for a purpose – not just foe the sake of reading it.

With huge articles you will need to carefully select the sections you read in order to not waste too much time. A tip for reading online articles is to use the search function to find keywords or phrases. When you search for them, you will be taken directly to where they are mentioned in the text. You can read these sections first as they probably hold your answers.


The fourth section of this method is to recite it. This make take up most of your time as we skim most of the first three sections. This step is all about writing down what you have found in your own words so that you can remember it correctly. This step is very important because you are consolidating your learning into your own words. Write what you have found and if this has produced any more questions!


Lastly, you need to review everything. This part is pretty self-explanatory. You will need to go over all of your new notes you have created and review them. Now with a second look, there might be parts that you think could be better. Make sure you pay special attention of the parts that you struggled with the most.

Try and take a break before you do this step, even sleep on it so that you can review it with a fresh mind.

Use Jamworks to assist your method

You can upload your notes into Jamworks as a session. This will help you get everything in an order, and you can keep it all tidy. You can also do anything you want with those notes! Use them to create flashcards or start highlighting them to pick out the more important parts.

You can use your notes alongside any lecture recording you have to get the most of your study sessions. Try Jamworks out now.

Final Thoughts

The Sq3R method is a great one to try out! It most certainly won’t work for everyone as it requires a lot of time and patient. If you like attention to detail, then this might be a shout. Don’t worry if you try this method out and you struggle a little. Everyone is different and therefore certain study methods won’t work as well for different people. For example, you might be more of a visual learner, you might work better with flashcards or colour coding.

Start studying recording and rewatching with your friends with Jamworks today – Click here to get started.

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