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Improving reading comprehension
May 8, 2016, 12:16 pm

Have you ever found yourself getting to the bottom of the page and have no idea what you just read? Everyone experiences this now and then and it is not something difficult for you or anyone to overcome. Follow these simple to help you remember what you just read.


Consider the time and place: Most students, out of habit, think that reading can be done anytime, anywhere. But not all places provide the best concentration. For instance, reading on your bed could cause you to fall asleep or at best, day-dream because you are in a place where the brain is thinking ‘relax’. On the other hand, if you decide to read on a desk, your chances of staying awake and concentrating will be much higher. The same goes for the time of day. If you save your reading until the end of the day, do not expect to read with the same concentration as that in the morning.

Read in thought groups: Many readers read one word at a time, which is cumbersome for the brain to understand. Instead, the brain will understand better when it is fed an idea instead of a mess of individual words. These ideas are found by grouping words together in a sentence that form a thought.

Look for the writer’s outline: When you read a textbook chapter or magazine article, you are - in effect - reading a fleshed out outline. Your job as the reader is to find the writer’s outline so you know the main ideas the author intended to get across. Understanding this framework before reading in detail will help weed out unnecessary material and introduce you to the content so when you read in more detail. This will also shorten your review time if you need to review it for a meeting or exam.

Read faster: Believe it or not, reading faster will help you improve your comprehension. Your brain thinks upwards of 400 words per minute and a word-for-word reader reads about 150 words-per-minute. So there are 250 words-per-minute that the brain is looking to fill so we day-dream as a filler. The faster you read, the less day-dreaming you can do. The result will be heightened concentration and better performance.


Sweat every unfamiliar word: Some readers completely stop reading when they come across a word they do not know. If the word is repeatedly used and you absolutely need to know its meaning, then look it up. However, many times, the word is used as a flowery descriptor, which means it is not essential that you know what it means. Also, if you think you have some semblance of the meaning from the rest of the sentence or paragraph, you can safely move on without looking it up.

Highlight everything you read: Too many people are coloring fanatics when it comes to using their highlighters. There is nothing more frustrating than to go back to something you read just to review your highlights and wonder ‘why did I highlight that?’ Basically, the only things that should be highlighted are key words and phrases. This will force you to carefully choose your highlighted words.

Read the same things: It helps to broaden your horizons by reading material you normally would not. It exposes you to other vocabulary and content, which makes your ability to comprehend a wider range of material easier.

To conclude, there are two main reasons I why people do not comprehend what they read: They read too slowly and/or daydream or they are unfamiliar with the vocabulary or concepts. That said, if you can read a little faster or read in a work placeand learn more vocabulary, then comprehending what you read will be much easier.

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