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Taking Notes Module

SQ4R Method

Most students find that their readings are often complex and packed with information and they use many methods to cope with the reading load. One popular method, SQ4R, is a series of strategies to help you read more actively and to improve your understanding and retention of the material. Try all the strategies at first, and then choose and apply those you find most effective.


  • Read the preface and introduction to the text, and browse through the table of contents and the index. Get a sense of the overall meaning of the reading or textbook chapter.
  • For each chapter: read all the titles and subtitles, study any pictures, charts or graphs, and if available, read the summaries at the end of the chapter and any study questions.


  • Change headings into questions. For example, the heading "Highlighting Method" could become "What is the highlighting method?"
  • Create your own questions based on your knowledge of the material or your lecture notes. For example, you could ask, "Is the textbook's definition different from my professor's definition in lecture?"


  • Read attentively to find the answers to your questions.
  • Change your question if you find after reading that your question can't be answered.


  • Close the textbook and answer your question in your own words.
  • Re-read the section if you can't answer the question.


  • Summarize answers to questions in your own words and record what you read.
  • Some common methods are to highlight and/or mark the text, or take notes, or some combination of both.


  • Have a regular review period (usually once a week). This is an effective strategy for retaining information.
  • Start from the beginning of the course in each review session. The volume of material to review increases as the semester progresses, but the amount of time needed to review older material decreases.