How To Improve Reading Comprehension 101

how to improve reading comprehension

Being able to comprehend and retain what you are reading is a critical skill. As you read, you should strive to understand the meaning of the content through awareness of what it says. 

By implementing these strategies below, you will change the way that you read. This makes the overall process much more enjoyable and full of valuable information.

Related: Teaching Kids to Write 101

What is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is a skill that allows you to understand what you are reading. This is an intentional action that takes place throughout the entire reading process. When you can comprehend what you are reading, you not only better absorb the information, but you can share this information more effectively. 

Two critical components of reading comprehension are text comprehension and the wide variety of known vocabulary. 

Why is it so Important?

There are several reasons why improving your reading comprehension is essential.

Here are just a few benefits of improving your reading comprehension skills:

  • Being able to understand and respond to documents or other written communication in everyday life.
  • Improved ability to write clearly and practically makes it easy for others to understand.
  • The ability to comprehend, retain, and engage in current events through written forms like newspapers.
  • Having an increased ability to focus on reading for an extended period.
  • Better enjoyment and more motivation to read.

Are you looking for personalized tutoring to help you improve your reading comprehension? Sage Reading is here to help

Related: What You Can Expect from Your First Tutoring session

Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

No matter what your current reading level, you can always benefit from improving your reading comprehension. Here are a few different ways that you can improve your reading comprehension skills. 

A family reading together.

Ask Questions About the Text

Asking questions is perhaps the easiest way to improve your reading comprehension skills. This learning method allows you to become invested in the text and topics. It also leads to a better overall understanding of the material. Allow yourself to explore new themes, motifs, and other components of the text. 

Here are some good questions to ask yourself as you read:

  • Why did the book begin where the author started it? Is this particular location important?
  • What kind of relationship do the characters have with one another?
  • What do we know about the main character so far within the book?
  • Do you notice any recurring themes within the book? What do you think they mean?

Improve Vocabulary

Knowing the definition of words can help to improve your overall ability to comprehend text, even if you don’t know every word within it. Improving your vocabulary can help lead you to learn the meaning of new words. 

Here are just a few ways to help improve your vocabulary:

  • There are some online vocabulary quizzes that you can take to assess your current knowledge.
  • Use flashcards with new words to quiz yourself throughout the week.
  • Make a point to learn new words daily. 
  • Use the words you learn in verbal and written communication.
  • Read as much as you can.
  • Make a list while you read of words to look up after. 

Look for the Main Idea

Read through the entire paragraph before you determine what it means. By looking at the context clues, you can get a better understanding of what you are reading. Take your time when reading through paragraphs and pause every few to reflect on what you have read

Pro Tip: Put what you just read into your own words. It doesn’t have to be too long, just a few sentences that summarize the main idea. 

Use Context Clues

Using context clues is an excellent way to deeper understand what you are reading when you don’t know every word within the paragraph. To use context clues, focus on any key phrases of the paragraph. This can help you identify the context of the unknown words. Also, be on the lookout for synonyms or antonyms of unfamiliar words. 

Break up the Reading into Small Sections

For long or complicated text, feel free to break it up into smaller chunks of reading. For example, read a paragraph or two, pause, and review what you just read before moving onto the next few paragraphs. This is an easy way to help reduce that overwhelming feeling.

Write a Summary of What You Read

An excellent way to increase your knowledge of what you have already read is to write a summary about it in your own words. This exercise will help you identify what parts of the subject are important and what isn’t. Summarizing also helps you to remember the subject matter longer. 

Pace Yourself

While setting goals is great, make sure that you set realistic goals for your reading. This is even more important for hard-to-read or longer books. Instead of expecting yourself to read an entire book in a week, set a page goal. This is much smaller and allows you time to work through the material.

Read Aloud

Reading out loud forces you to read slower. This exercise allows you more time to process the words as you read them. Furthermore, this leads to better reading comprehension. 

Books on a shelf at a library.

Read Books on the Right Level

For children and adults looking to improve their reading comprehension, it is important to select books that are already within your reading level. A quick trip to the library can help you choose a few to test read before taking them home. 

Aim to know at least most of the words without help. Too many unfamiliar words can slow down the reading process and become overwhelming.

Related: How to Help Children Struggling with Reading

Reread to Build Fluency

It pays to reread the text. This exercise allows you to work through and identify new words quickly. By rereading can also help to familiarize yourself with these new words and build upon current reading skills.

Talk About What’s Being Read

When you talk about what you read, it helps your brain to retain it better than just reading. This exercise is similar to reading out loud. Ask questions throughout the reading process.

  • Why are you interested in this book?
  • What’s currently happening in the book?
  • Can you summarize the entire book?

Reading Comprehension in a Nutshell

Expanding your reading comprehension is a great skill to grow. Take things slowly, and you’ll improve your reading comprehension in no time.

Sage Reading Tutors can help you improve your reading comprehension with custom lessons.

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