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Friday, February 10, 2012

SQ3R, Part II


What are the "Six Ws"? Hint: the first is "Who?"


Last lesson we started looking at "SQ3R," a method for reading that will help you get the most out of reading articles, and chapters in books. (The name means "Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.")

In the second step, "Question," we take information from "Survey" and ask ourselves a few questions.

We were looking at an article in a Chinese newspaper titled "Banks urged to make more loans."

How many questions can you think of about such a headline? For example: Which banks? Urged by whom? Loans to whom? And so on.

We can also create questions about pictures (Who is in the picture? What is he or she doing?) and, especially, the "lead."

Here is the lead from that article:

"The State Council said yesterday it would adopt more favorable policies and update the financial system to encourage the country's commercial banks to grant more loans to support economic growth."

Now, the lead may answer some questions. To the question "Which banks?" we can answer "the country's [that is, China's] commercial banks." The "urging" is being done by "The State Council."

The only remaining question, then, is "loans to whom?" Meanwhile, you may find more questions to answer, such as: How will the new policies work?

As you move into the body of the article, keep these questions in mind: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?

When we ask "Who," there are often two sides: Who did something, and to Whom? The Headline tells us to Whom: banks. The lead tells us Who: The State Council.

Next, "What" did he, she, it, or they do? Most headlines will have a verb: that's a clue as to the main event of the article. Here, the State Council "urged" the banks. The verb in the lead can be a little tougher, as a lead usually tries to squeeze in as much information as possible. This lead has six verbs! (said, adopt, update, encourage, grant, support)

"Where" something happened may or may not be important. In this article, it doesn't really matter where the State Council was meeting, as long as we know that we're talking about China.

"When" may or may not be important. If something is going to happen in the future, the reader may want to be aware of it. But in most cases, the news we get is about the immediate past. (If it's in the distant past, it's no longer "news"!)

Finally, the "Why" and the "How" are often buried deep in the later part of the article. In this article, however, the lead tells us the "Why": "to support economic growth."

Now we are ready to read the body of the article, and apply the "3R" portion of "SQ3R": Read, Recite, Review.


1. What does the "Q" stand for in "SQ3R"? What does it mean?
2. What are three good things to ask questions about?
3. Where did we find the main point of this article (and, in fact, most articles)?
4. What sorts of things does the lead tell us?
5. What six types of questions can be asked in the "Question" stage?


1. The "Q" in "SQ3R" stands for "Question," meaning "ask questions."
2. Three good things to ask questions about are the headline, the pictures, and the lead.
3. The main point of this article is in the headline.
4. The lead tells us who did what to whom, and why they did it.
5. Six types of questions that can be asked in the "Question" stage are: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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