Reading comprehension is your ability to understand what you just read. When you read, can you comprehend enough of to explain it to someone else? What are the top tips to understand and remember what you read, so you can participate more in class and get better grades? Check out what you can do before, during, and after reading:

Before you read

  • Get in a “ready to read” zone! I personally need a quiet spot to concentrate; maybe you need music. Get pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-its handy. If you have to keep stopping to get supplies, it can make reading your assignment a giant pain in the neck – and take twice as long.
  • Read the title and headers. Get an idea of what this selection will be about. Go in with some expectations. Remember when you had to predict the next part of the story in elementary school? This is taking that skill to the next level.
  • Look at the pictures and graphs. This was my go-to method for all my science classes. Science text was the most difficult for me to retain, but if I could scope out the charts before diving into all the vocabulary, I usually had an easier time taking it all in.


While reading

  • Check yourself! Did you just read an entire paragraph and not have any idea what it said? Then go back! Try reading it out loud to yourself (when you read out loud, you also tend to read slower), or ask someone else to read it aloud to you.
  • Take notes. I know this can be boring…but if you take notes along the way, then you can just review those when it comes time to do homework or take a test. I rarely studied by looking at the textbook; instead, I read my notes over and over again. It makes the task much more manageable.
  • Reflect with the text. The best strategy that a college professor ever taught me was to interact with the reading. Write in the margins or use tiny sticky notes to write your personal thoughts like, “I never thought about that before” or to ask questions. And draw images to help you remember concepts. My comprehension level went up significantly because I was willing to take the time to interact with the text.
  • Have a dictionary handy. I love the Webster Dictionary app on my phone. I use it all the time because my vocabulary could, well…use some enhancement. Plus, I feel less frustrated because I understand that particular word, and feel smarter – because I know a new word!

After you read

  • Explain it to someone else – or if no one is around and/or willing to listen, just talk out loud to yourself. I know this seems really weird, but you might be surprised how much it may help.
  • Review your notes. Walk away for a few hours, and then come back to the text and see what you can remember. Reading should go more quickly the second time, or just skim through your notes.
  • Reward yourself! You just read a difficult-to-comprehend text! Get yourself a treat or give yourself a break. Know that you can handle these difficult tasks.

For some great questions to guide you as you read, check out this resource that gives before, during, and after prompts.

What other reading for comprehension tips can you share?

  • Raymond

    The most important point is to explain what you read.