Reading Comprehension Skills: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

reading comprehension skillsThere are many times in your life when you will be required to read books and other text that are outside of your normal reading comfort zone. Some types of reading material can seem daunting, but there are many ways to help you tackle even the most complex texts. The tips included here will be able to help you in any reading situation, and if you use them regularly, will quickly become second nature as your reading comprehension skills improve.

Watch Your Timing

When you have text to read that is difficult, and you need to retain or extract specific information from it, try to read earlier in the day. Reading late at night when you are tired, means that your comprehension and concentration are at their lowest levels. Reading earlier in the day will allow you to use your brain at full power. As you probably were taught at school, keep your reading time to about 30 minutes then take a short break. This enables your mind to focus more effectively. The short break also gives you time to absorb the information gleaned from the text. By reading in short, frequent bursts you will maximize your quality reading time. Just imagine what it might be like to induce your Maximum Power Speed Reading? How much easier would life be, right?

Choose a Good Location

In order to be able to focus completely on the text, choose a place to read that has little or no distractions. Definitely ensure that the television or radio is switched off and that you are somewhere quiet. This will allow your mind to focus fully on the text. An added benefit is that it will allow you the opportunity to read any difficult portions of the text out loud. Reading out loud is a very good way to make sense of a difficult section of text. It allows your brain to process the information from several different sources simultaneously.

Preview the Text

When tackling a new book or chapter, do not just dive straight into the text. Take some time to review the book’s cover. Read any information that may be included on the back of the book or the inside sleeve. Next, read the introduction and the table of contents to give you an idea of the key topics included in the book. Check if there is a chapter summary and review that before reading the whole chapter. By doing these simple steps you will gain a perspective of what the book contains, and where different pieces of information are likely to be located. Previewing will also tell you if the information you need is actually likely to be in the text. Moreover, you really want to focus on the 7 Literacy Strategies that Work: Improve Reading Comprehension Today.

Consider What You Already Know

reading comprehension skillsNow you have an idea what the text is about, take some time to consider what you already know about the subject. Then determine what you are trying to find out. Just by clarifying these two things, you are already getting in the right mindset for the book. Next, formulate a few questions that you are looking to get answered. You can write them down if you want, to refer to as you are reading. This will help you while reading, as the questions will jog your mind when you reach a relevant section of text. In addition, you could go even further and  improve your reading comprehension skills in only two hours.

Monitor Yourself

While you are reading, ask yourself from time to time, what new information you have learned. If you cannot come up with a good answer to that question, then you should take a break, and then read the section again. Taking notes when you are reading will help you with this. You can write on a separate sheet of paper, use a highlighter or write in the margins. As part of your note-taking, ensure to write down any words you do not know. Have a dictionary close to hand to look them up, and write down the definition next to the word. Once you have completed the text analyze whether you have achieved your goal. If you have not, decide if you need to reread parts of the book, or need a different one.

Benefits of Reading

Think of the last time you actually read a book, when was it? Can you even recall the date and time? Are you so busy reading your last tweet or text, that you do not even have time? Well, there are reasons you should make reading a priority.

  • Stimulate Your Mind

When you remain mentally stimulated, studies show that you might be able to deter the effects of Dementia or Ahlzeimer’s. Your brain is a muscle, and it can atrophy without use, just like any other muscle of your body. Think of something you were good at a few years ago. To illustrate, imagine you took piano lessons for three years, then stopped playing for an entire year. Now, try to pick up where you left off. It would be quite difficult without daily practice, wouldn’t it?

  • Reduce Stress

Life abounds with obstacles, those predicted and unforeseen. Bills, work, and needs can all factor into stress. However, you can lose yourself in a well-written book. All of a sudden, you are rolling on the high seas with the captain of a large ship or are fighting off dragons in a science fiction novel, and everything else seems much smaller when you look back.

  • Improve Your Knowledge of the World

Most people want to lead interesting and cultivated lives. Some people can afford to travel the world and learn first hand, while others can’t. Nonetheless, what you can do, is read to increase your knowledge of the world. Everything you read gives you new slices of information that may come in handy when you least expect it. Not to mention, physical things may be taken away from you, but not a single person can take away your knowledge or what is stored in your brain.

By using these simple tips, you will find your reading comprehension skills will improve dramatically. In fact, you may even become a superlearner. You will also find that with these extra steps, your retention of what you read should also improve. It may seem like a lot of work, but with practice, it will quickly become second nature.