Study Techniques

Do You Have Trouble Remembering What You Read?

Students often complain that they can’t remember what they read when they read a textbook. These same students state they have no problem remembering when they read for pleasure. The problem is, students are tested on their textbook reading and not on their pleasure reading!

The solution to this problem is to learn to study read. Study reading, when done correctly and consistently, improves comprehension.

SQ3R is a method of textbook study reading. Review the handout on SQ3R and always apply it when you read your textbooks. You’ll be surprised at how much you remember!


SQ3R: A Textbook Study Technique


SQ3R: A Textbook Study Technique
S Survey

Look over the title, subtitles, introduction, graphics, bold-faced and italicized print, summary, and questions at the end of the chapter.

Q Question
  1. Turn the subtitle into a question.
  2. The question will give a purpose for reading the section of material.
R Read
  1. Read the material included under the subtitle.
  2. Read to answer the question made from the subtitle.
R Recite and Write
  1. Recite (out loud) the answer to the question which was made from the subtitle.
  2. Recite other important information given in the subsection.
  3. Recite the information using your own words.
  4. Write Notes.
  5. Repeat Q,R,R for each subsection of the reading assignment.
R Review
  1. Review your notes.
  2. Answer questions at the end of the chapter.
  3. Review notes regularly—every day or two.

Notes: A Student’s Best Friend

A good set of notes that are correctly studied are a student’s most valuable study tool.

Following are 10 hints for good notetaking. (Adopted from How to Study in College by Walter Pauk)

  • Use the Cornell Notetaking System to ensure useful, practical and meaningful notes. (See Cornell Notes below)
  • Record information selectively; focus on key ideas. Write in phrases rather than sentences.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols.
  • Discover the lecturer’s organizational style.
  • Watch for signal words and phrases a lecturer uses.
  • Record the lecturer’s examples. Don’t consider any example too obvious.
  • Skip lines; leave 2 or 3 lines between main ideas.
  • Write only on one side of the paper.
  • Organize your notes in a three ring binder.

Review your notes the day you took the notes. Fill in the Recall Column at this time and determine what the central point of the lecture was.

Cornell Notes


Cornell Notes
(Recall Column)

(Notes Section)

Definition Method of organizing noted to make them a useful study tool.
Supplies Needed 3-ring binder
  • Lecture notes written on the back side of the paper
  • Reading notes taken on the front side of the paper
  • Three ring binder allows handouts to be inserted next to their topic.
Cornell Format
  • Draw vertical line 2 ½ " – 3" from the left side of the paper
    • Known as the Recall Column
    • Considered indexing of notes
    • Made up of key word or phrases or questions to describe, explain the notes immediately to the right.
    • Usually completed after the lecture when reviewing the notes.
  • Record notes to right of Recall Column

2 ½ " – 3"

Summary Box Used at the bottom of each page

Summarizes the material on the page

Helps organize the material within your notebook

Review Notes Review notes before the end of the day.
  • Add any points missed
  • Rewrite illegible words

Review prior to the next class meeting

Review all notes from the week at the end of the week

Repetition begins the learning process

Study Tool Use your notes as a study tool
  • Cover the notes section
  • Use the Recall Column to quiz yourself on the material.

How Long Before a Test Should I Start Studying For It?

The first day you view the videos!!

Yes, the best time to begin preparing for a test is the first day of class. Make a study plan, organize yourself and stay on top of your work. This will not only make you ready for the test but will also help reduce test anxiety.

Remember SCORER and be smart when taking tests.

S = Schedule your time

  1. Consider the exam as a whole.
  2. Estimate time to complete each section.

C = Clue your time

  1. Consider the exam as a whole.
  2. Estimate time to complete each section.

O = Omit the difficult questions

  1. Move rapidly through the test.
  2. Answer the essay questions first. Keep moving!
  3. Omit the difficult ones on the first pass through the test.
  4. Return to the difficult questions later. Watch your time!

R = Read carefully

  1. Know what the questions are asking.
  2. Note any qualifier words or negative words.

E = Estimate your answers

  1. On problem solving or calculations problems, estimate in what "ball park" the correct answer will be.
  2. As a last resort on remaining problems, guesstimate – (take your best guess).

R = Review your work

  1. Don’t be too eager to change answers.
  2. Be certain you have considered all questions.
  3. Proofread your work.
  4. PRINT your name on the test and any additional sheets.


How Well Are You Learning?

After reviewing a telecourse video, assess how well you understood the material. These short assessments will give you some help in determining the next step in studying.

  1. What was the clearest point in today’s sessions? Explain that point in your own words.
  2. What was the muddiest point in today’s session? Explain what you will do to clear up or better understand this point.
  3. What was the most meaningful or useful thing you learned during this session? Explain why it was meaningful or useful.
  4. List some interesting ideas from today’s session.
  5. What could you have done to improve your learning in today’s session?
  6. What are some important questions you have unanswered at the end of today’s session?


After a Test….

Assess your performance on the test.

  1. How would you rate the exam? Why?
  2. How did you prepare for the exam?
  3. When did you begin to prepare for the exam?
  4. Where do you study?
  5. What grade do you expect to receive on this exam?
  6. What adjustments will you make in your studying to prepare for the next exam?
  7. Would you benefit from any academic support services at IVCC? If so, which ones?

(See your counselor for assistance in locating the proper support services.)

Assessment techniques modified from IVCC’s Introduction to Classroom Assessment Research

Hints for Remembering

  • Intend to remember – Have an "I Can" attitude.
  • Learn it well and it won’t be easily forgotten.
  • Associate new information with something you already know.
    • study for mastery
    • use proven study techniques
    • study in small chunks of time
    • review, review, review
  • Categorize or organize the material to be learned.
  • If material can’t be logically categorized or organized, use memory devices.
    • mnemonic sentence
    • acronym
    • visualization