Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: QAR—Question/Answer Relationships
Raphael, T. E. (1982). Question-answering strategies for children. The Reading Teacher, 36(2), 186-190.


The QAR strategy has been used successfully to help students recognize different types of questions and how to locate the answers. In QAR, there are four types of questions, each of which can be answered from a different source. These are divided into two groups—In the Book and In My Head. The answers to In the Book questions are text explicit—"right there"—or text implicit—"think and search." In My Head questions involve finding the answer using background knowledge and the author's clues: "Author and You," or adding the reader's own experience to background knowledge and author's clues: "On Your Own."


  1. Introduce the two large categories "In the Book" and "In My Head," using a large chart. Define the four types of questions.

    In the Book QARS

    Right There
    The answer is in the text and usually easy to find. The words used to make up the question and the words used to answer the question are right there in the same sentence.

    Think and Search (Putting it Together)
    The answer is in the story, but you need to put together different story parts to find it. Words for the question and words for the answer are not found in the same sentence. They come from different parts of the text.

    In My Head QARS

    Author and You
    The answer is not in the story. You need to think about what you already know, what the author tells you in the text, and how it fits together.

    On My Own
    The answer is not in the story. You can even answer the question without reading the story. You just need to use your own experience.

    Give examples of each one. A fun example of this strategy is found below.

  2. Assign a short reading passage and list questions on the board, overhead, or chart. Ask students to categorize the questions by where the answers could be found. Discuss the differences.
  3. Continue reading, with the class practicing answering a few questions and clarifying as you go.
  4. Break the students into small groups. Assign a reading passage. Each group will read and design appropriate questions to be posed to the entire class.
  5. A chart can be kept indicating the number of questions that fall into each category. As time goes on, students will be encouraged to ask fewer "In the Book" questions and more higher-level "In My Head" questions.



The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,

And the itsy, bitsy spider went up the spout again.


  1. Who climbed up the water spout? (Right There)
  2. What happened after the rain washed the spider out? (Think and Search)
  3. Why do you think the spider decided to climb back up the water spout? (Author and You)
  4. Have you ever tried and failed at something once, and yet still had the courage to try again? (On Your Own)

Dos and Don'ts of QARs


  1. Begin with both categories, introducing students to the In The Book and In My Head strategies.
  2. Wait until the students thoroughly understand the two sources—background knowledge and text—before distinguishing between QARs within these two categories.
  3. Focus on the two sources separately (i.e., when ready to expand, select either In The Book or In My Head and teach the two categories in that source).
  4. Ask questions that enhance their sense of story content as well as structure.
  5. Engage students in postreading discussions to help them relate information in the text to their own experiences.
  6. Balance text-based and inference questions.
  7. Ask students to generate their own questions and to categorize each question as they read narrative or expository texts.


  1. Focus on the accuracy of the answer for In The Book questions; rather, place emphasis on locating information using the text.
  2. Expand the categories until students have a clear picture of the differences between In The Book and In My Head questions. This could take several days or weeks.


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