How To Improve Reading Comprehension: 10 Important Tips

Reading comprehension is an essential component of basic literacy and communication. Readers may begin reading at one particular level but find they fail to expand their reading comprehension skills. This article explains several methods and tools which readers can use to comprehend more information in a shorter amount of time.

We constructed this list from reliable sources containing updated research studies. These studies examined cognitive development, reader retention, and linguistic analysis. After synthesizing the most important points from these sources, the list was created and placed in its current order. 

Human beings learn by using various methods and tools, but this article features the most common and accessible strategies readers can use to improve their reading comprehension skills. 

Below you will find ten methods readers can use to read texts more efficiently. Readers can use these techniques to expand their analytical tools and sharpen their attention spans. Improving one’s reading comprehension skills is an ongoing process and these tools will help readers develop sustainable progress toward their reading and literacy goals. 

1. Read More Than One Genre

Some readers focus on reading only one or two genres of fiction. Other readers devote all their time to non-fiction. Being tied down to only one kind of text will not help readers improve their reading comprehension skills. Reading a diverse group of texts will keep your mind capable of processing different sources of information. 

Magazine stories, newspaper articles, and marketing documents are all examples of the variety of texts available to readers. Immersing themselves in a diverse group of texts will help readers expand their vocabularies by exposing them to different writing genres. 

2. Develop Frameworks

Reading a text without having a mental framework regarding the text’s subject matter will cause readers to feel confused and frustrated. One technique readers can use to improve their reading comprehension skills is to research a topic before they begin reading a text. If readers familiarize themselves with features of an unknown subject, then their reading experience will be more rewarding. 

Readers can investigate a subject by reading entries in encyclopedias and reading summaries that outline information logically. By developing cognitive frameworks, readers can improve their understanding of texts.  

3. Identify Reasoning Tools

Identifying reasoning tools is one of the best things readers can do to improve their reading comprehension skills. Readers should focus on three main types of reasoning:

  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Abductive Reasoning

Learning about these three reasoning tools will help readers identify arguments, follow reasoned explanations, and formulate counter arguments as they read texts. 

Deductive reasoning begins with a general idea and reaches a specific conclusion. 

Inductive reasoning begins with a specific idea and reaches a general conclusion. 

Abductive reasoning is making a probable conclusion from a given set of facts.

Readers and writers use these three types of reasoning tools all the time. If readers are struggling with the texts they are reading then learning about these reasoning tools will help them comprehend more information. 

4. Building Your Vocabulary

One of the best methods readers can use to improve their reading comprehension skills is to increase the number of words in their vocabulary. One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to use a dictionary while you read. Many seasoned readers write down unknown words and look them up in the dictionary.  

Readers can also keep a notebook with them as they read and write down vocabulary words in the notebook. Keeping a notebook will help readers monitor their growth and development. 

By focusing on roots and prefixes, readers can learn how to comprehend more words as they read increasingly complex texts. 

5. Highlight, Annotate, and Review

Strong readers engage the text as they read. Readers interested in improving their reading comprehension skills should highlight and annotate important phrases and sentences as they read. By making this a common practice, readers can retain more information and recall it more quickly when they review the text. 

Annotating a text is one of the best techniques readers can use to improve their reading comprehension skills. Annotating a text forces a reader to pay attention to the words on the page. Also, annotating helps readers understand what they read. Active and close reading enables readers to retain more detailed information as they examine texts. 

Close reading skills like annotating help students interact with a text and therefore remember more details related to the text’s contents. 

6. Analyze the Method of Organization 

Writers use different organizational models when drafting essays. Readers who want to improve their reading comprehension skills should be familiar with the following organizational models: 

  • Sequence
  • Description
  • Cause and Effect
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Problem and Solution

These various tools used by writers appear in multiple texts. Readers can improve their reading comprehension skills by recognizing these five methods of organization. Texts can be organized using different organizational techniques, and readers can use these methods to identify how texts are organized. When readers can identify how texts are organized, they can comprehend more details inside the text. 

7. Recognize Paragraph Structure

Readers should recognize that paragraphs are typically organized around a topic sentence. Topic sentences are supported by evidence and analytical commentary. A paragraph ends with a concluding statement that expresses a new idea suggested in the paragraph. 

These basic paragraph components can be used by readers to improve their reading comprehension skills. Active readers engage with the text and analyze how paragraphs are structured. Readers can recognize these features and use them to comprehend more information when they analyze texts. 

Readers who fail to recognize paragraph structure may not be able to focus on how the information they are reading is organized into a coherent whole. If readers learn to recognize paragraph structure, then they will be able to formulate more expansive and complex ideas regarding the texts they interpret. 

8. Use Smart Reading Strategies

Smart reading strategies can be tailored to individual readers. Every reader can formulate their own set of reading strategies that will help them improve their reading comprehension. Readers can break up paragraphs into individual sections or divide whole pages of text into separate paragraphs. 

Scheduling breaks during your reading period is another reading strategy that can help readers understand how to improve their reading comprehension skills. 

Rereading sections of a text can also help readers improve their reading comprehension skills. Reading a passage more than once can force readers to assess how they are interpreting the information in the text they are analyzing. 

9. Survey the Text

Readers should analyze any headings, subheadings, or charts included in a text. Examining this information will help readers understand how to assess the main ideas expressed in the text they are going to read. 

If readers prepare themselves by surveying the text, then they will be more likely to comprehend the main ideas communicated in the text. Rather than entering a piece of writing without any preparation and losing focus of the text’s main idea, readers can anticipate what the writer is going to express and thereby improve their reading comprehension skills. 

10. Ideal Reading Environment

An integral tool that readers can use to improve their reading comprehension skills is to find their ideal reading environment. Some readers prefer to read in silence, while others require background noise or music. Every reader is different, and therefore no single reading environment will be the best for all readers. 

The ideal reading environment can help a reader retain more information. A productive reading environment can also help a reader focus on the text for longer periods of time. Readers can practice their reading comprehension techniques in an ideal reading environment for more effective results. 

Practice Your Reading Comprehension Skills

The most effective way to improve your reading comprehension skills is to practice the ten techniques listed above. If readers devote a set amount of time every day to improving their reading comprehension skills, then it will not be long before those readers are able to interpret more complex and intellectually demanding texts. 

Readers can spend their time practicing reading comprehension skills whenever they are reading a text. By keeping these tools in mind, readers can be more proactive about how they choose to improve their reading comprehension abilities. 

Resources are always available in libraries and online for readers who wish to learn more about the art of reading comprehension. As readers become more adept at interpreting texts, they can begin to formulate their own personal reading strategies, which will contribute to their development as readers. 

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