Have you ever read a book or an article and then been unable to explain it to someone else because you remember virtually no specifics? If you want to remember more of what you read, don’t just start reading. Put your brain into the right state, and then help it find meaning.

“I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.”
Isaac Asimov, author.


The five-step process to recalling what you read is best remembered by the acronym SQRQS. This simple process takes very little extra time but dramatically boosts your recall.
Step 1. S — SCAN
Before you start reading, scan the document. Decipher the length and how the information is presented. This will give you an overview of how long the text should take to read, and give you a few seconds to focus.

Step 2. Q — QUESTION
Now ask yourself: “What do you know about this already? What do you hope to find out?” This helps you establish a context and find meaning. Remember, you learn by associating new information with what you already know.

Step 3. R — READ
Now read the document. If you pause in between sections you’ll increase your recall even further.

Step 4. Q — QUESTION
Put down the document and test yourself. What specifically do you remember? How would you explain it to someone else? What do you think about it? Did you disagree with any of it? It is critical to test your recall, but answering these questions also helps you find meaning.

Step 5. S — SCAN
One last scan. If you carried out the first four steps of this process, you will already have remembered what was important to you. If step 4 highlighted things you hadn’t remembered but wanted to, one last scan will fill in the blanks.