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Self-Study Resources - DIY Tutoring: Reading in College

Reading for Writing

In college, whether you are reading for class or reading sources for a paper or other project, you may benefit from being an active reader. There is no one right way to do this, but here are some tips:

One framework for active reading is SQRRR or SQR3. This stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.

Survey: Skim the article first, looking at the introduction, conclusion and major points – this is your survey. Make a few brief notes about what stands out.

Question: Ask yourself questions that will help you understand the article. Again, there is no one right way to do this, but some possibilities include: Who wrote it? Who is the audience for this article? What is the purpose of the paper? What are the major points the author makes? What is the conclusion? How does this relate to your class, paper topic or research question? How can you best use this article for your paper or project?

Read: Read the article again, answering your own questions. Make sure your notes are clear enough that when you read them again later, they make sense. Also note anything you are unsure about.

ReciteYou can actually talk out loud if you are in a place where that's possible, or write down, in your own words, what you just read and how it relates to what you already know and need to know. 

Review: It's helpful to do this step sooner rather than later – go over your notes, make sure everything is clear, and skim again to make sure you haven't missed anything. Also, note how you want to use this source.

When you're done with SQR3, you should have a clear idea not only of what the article is about, but also how best to cite it in your paper to support your own ideas.

Here's a video on SQR3, and University of North Carolina's "Reading to Write" page. Worried that you can't recall what you read? SQR3 can help, and you can also try these tips on How to Remember What You Read from the University of Manitoba. 

More resources

Here are some other very helpful resources to help you read more efficiently and retain more of what you read.

How to Read a Scholarly Article

You do not have to read every word of a scholarly article--especially at first. Start with the abstract, then scan the introduction. This 5 minute video outlines a strategy for reading scholarly articles.

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