Are there any books, articles, or sentences that just go over your head?
Even when you are a regular reader?
Reading is one of the best exercises to fortify intellect. But most of us often turn a blind eye to the most important aspect of reading, i.e. comprehension.
Being an avid reader, I love to read anything from an online article to a newspaper to a novel. But when I think of the text that I just rushed through in the past, I realize that I missed out a lot.
Reading without comprehension is nothing better than nodding during a boring lecture.
You can complete the formality of attending these lectures, but you gain nothing.
Similarly, what do you gain from reading the text that you don’t (or don’t try to) comprehend? Nothing.
And I am sure that no one wants to spend time on meaningless and time-consuming activities.
This is why you need to make your reading turn out worthy. You need to practice and master the art of reading comprehension.
And what is reading comprehension?
In simple words, it is your ability to understand what you read. Draw inferences from your readings. And participate in active discussions on the topic.
It is only through active reading that you gain an expanded vision.
Here, I have shared some simple and doable reading comprehension strategies. Apply these strategies to your next reading session and make the most of your time and energy.
Whether you are generally reading or preparing for an exam, you’ll find these reading comprehension strategies to be appropriate.
Enlarge Your Word Power
This might sound like a typical advice, but I could neither find a substitute nor miss it.
Vocabulary building is an inseparable part of reading comprehension. One word can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
Let’s take a simple example:
He detests classic movies.
If you don’t know the meaning of the word detest, you can conclude any meaning from the sentence.
Can you tell whether he loves classic movies or hates them?
Sometimes, you get the meaning by reading the context. But that doesn’t help all the time. Contexts are not always as simple. With complicated contexts and limited vocabulary, your reading experience can get really bumpy.
And the only way to get over this bumpiness is through expanding your vocabulary. An enlarged vocabulary stops you from flying off on a tangent. It perks up your reading sessions.
There are various interesting ways to expand your lexicon. I found this book- Word Power by Norman Lewis to be the best for the purpose. Though it needs to be supplemented. You can supplement it by reading these brilliant books.
Reread- To Get Hold of The Details
Let’s take the example of movies.
There must be some movies that you have watched more than once.
I suppose those were among your favorite movies. And that you did not watch them (most of them) again and again because of comprehension issues.
Did you notice that some of the scenes made more sense the second time you watched? And some the third time you watched?
That’s because the first time we watch a movie, we are keener towards the most shocking or surprising elements. Our mind doesn’t pay much attention to the details. It mainly cares about what next.
The second time we watch a movie, the twists and turns don’t surprise and shock us as much as they did the first time we watched. And this makes us pay more attention to the details.
Same is the case with reading. The first time we read anything, we are only concerned about ‘what next?’ Details do not grab our attention. But as we read it twice and thrice, details start making sense.
Rereading is critical to savvy the details of any text. So, the next time you read any good piece of writing. Reread to understand it the way it is meant to be understood.
Note: Those preparing for exams like SSC, CAT, and Bank PO, should read the questions (related to the passage) before reading the passage. This way you already know the points that you need to pay focus to. Underline the keywords and important sentences. Read the passage twice and underline the related sentences or words. Now when you read the questions again, you will know where you can find the answers.
Spare Some Time To Stop at Different Points and Think
If you are reading something for the second or third time, and you still find that some words, sentences, or phrases do not convey a clear meaning. Then you need to spare a few moments to reread those words, phrases, or sentences.
Maybe that is a relatively boring part of the text. And that’s why you rush through it every time you read the text.
Pay it a little more attention. Read the entire context. And I am sure you’ll get it.
Don’t Highlight but Talk to The Text
Highlighting the text with neon colored markers is one of the corniest reading pieces of advice. Being a common advice, I am sure it must have worked for many other readers. But my experience with highlighting and underlining hasn’t been that great.
While you highlight, you feel great. You feel you’ve just had a great session of reading. But the outcomes of this reading session, after a while, are not more than the outcomes of a non-highlighting session.
That’s because highlighting doesn’t require much thought. You read an interesting word; you highlight it. You read an important sentence, fact or figure, you highlight it.
How much efforts did your brain had to put in? None, or negligible at most.
The better way to gain most from your reading sessions is to ANNOTATE.
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Annotating, in other words, is thinking critically and talking to the text. The best thing about this strategy is that it keeps you active throughout the reading session.
There are no set ways to annotate a text. But some of the most common ways are to paraphrase complex sentences in simple words. To summarize complicated or large paragraphs. To understand and add simple meanings to difficult words.
Though this isn’t a new technique, I have recently started paying attention to it. And it has worked well for me. It just nulls the dullness of my reading sessions. Here’s how I annotated the first page of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which I started reading a few days back:
You can make your annotations more interactive by using different colored pens or markers.
Here is a video explaining some interesting ways to annotate:
Annotating is an exercise for your mind. It keeps your mind engaged, all through the reading session.
It helps you remember the key points of the text, long after you have read them. Also, it makes your subsequent reading sessions, with the same text, a lot easier and fun.
Seek Help and Exchange Views
For some reasons, discussions are among the most ignored and underrated comprehension strategies. One of the primary motives behind reading is gaining a wider perspective.
The main conclusion of any text cannot be different for any two people. However, the understanding of details may vary from person to person. If you are, even after reading again and again, not able to comprehend any particular detail, seek help from a friend who has read the same text. We often miss out things that others comprehend. Also, you can explain others your understanding of the points that they didn’t get.
This exercise will help you gain a broader vision. And also by explaining your perspective, you will be able to remember the key points for a longer period.
So, these were the reading comprehension practices that I had to share.
Have you thought which one are you going to try first?
I know it seems a bit overwhelming.
You can start with the one that seems the most doable.
Practice it for a while. Analyze the improvements. And then pick another strategy.
Good Luck! Happy reading 🙂
3 thoughts on “5 Miraculous Reading Comprehension Strategies”
help from a friend who has read the same text.
The blog is really good. Thanks for sharing it.
Lovely and beautiful blog.