How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Instructor: Adam Nystrom

Adam owns a Master's degree in Professional and Digital Media Writing. During his time as a graduate assistant, he developed lesson plans for upper-level English courses.

Reading any passage of text is one thing, but maintaining the information in your head isn't always as easy. Read on for some tips on how to improve your reading comprehension and improve your test-taking ability in English and Language Arts.

Tips for Improving Comprehension

The practice of reading comprehension can be explained as, simply, analyzing what you are looking at. Obviously, you know how to comprehend what you're reading, but could use some improvement? Here are some things to remember:

  • Draw comparisons in your mind. Stack your reading selection against others that you remember from the past. This way, you have an easy reference point to use while comparing the different stories or passages.
  • Ask yourself questions about the material, like what the important facts are and what information is available to take away from the selection. A good checklist can be an easy path to a better understanding of what you have read.
  • Utilize all of your senses. Try to envision the smells and sounds of the scenery, or the feel of the landscape in the passage.
  • Don't be afraid to re-read. Taking a few extra seconds to go over the text again is a better option than trying to cram everything in at once.
  • Try the SQ3R System. This process, used by many universities, involves five steps to remember: survey (quick glances), question (ask about the content), read (using questions you have created), recite (see what you remember), and review (rearrange your memory).

Reading Comprehension on Tests

On standardized tests such as the GRE, reading comprehension sections are par for the course. If you are planning on taking anything from the SAT to the ACT or any number of exams that contain sections on English and Language Arts, chances are you will find a section that tests your ability to examine a section of text and answer questions regarding what you have learned. The important thing to remember, especially when working within a time limit, is to focus on the details. Not every single word in a paragraph is vitally important; stick to the facts that matter and important events that take place within the selection.

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