How to improve your reading comprehension

Reading is one of the habits that our parents attempt to inculcate in us from an early age, in view of laying the foundation for a well-rounded, educated citizen for the future.

Not only is reading an enjoyable past time activity but also helps you explore unseen places, people, encounters and experiences that are easily passed on through a good piece of content. However, the importance of reading lies in the fact that you have understood what has been read.

The three important criteria to be fulfilled to gain maximum benefit in this context would be;
i)    Understand what you read
ii)   Remember what you read
iii)   See how and when you can use and implement what you have gained
If you find yourself to be one of those people who think you have problems with a short attention span, short-term memory loss or persistent problems with retention, the following few tips if put into practice will help you become an ‘active reader.'  

Take Important Notes
Taking notes is a fine tool to boost reading comprehension. It also gives you a break in-between to set your mind a pace for digestible, active reading. You may maintain a notebook to help retention in instances that you require points for an exam, or you may also place sticky notes where and when necessary to bookmark a page or to jot down a line that catches your attention. Using colored highlighters to underlining phrases can also be beneficial for reference of the context in future.

Ask Questions
A proven way to increase retention power is through questions. When you ask questions, you are getting involved in the story. It reveals dimensions to the story that make you realize and understand the subliminal message the author is tipping to convey. Questions will also give you a preview of what is to unfold in following parts of the story, and this would invariably help with better understanding and also assist in remembering the plot in time to come.

Read Aloud
This practice will help you adjust to the reading pace that you are comfortable with. Reading aloud also increases your focus as it mitigates the distractions around you which are more amplified when you are not.  Reading in your head has limited effect as you only hear the words internally, and enough power is not emitted as when the words are said aloud.

Re-read if Required
When you are at the end of a page or the end of a chapter revisit the context that has been initially read and recall to assess, the impact the text has had on your thinking. If it’s a fictional read you may want to finish the book and reread it from scratch if you think that it hasn’t been digested well enough. If it’s reading for an exam, you may go over it by the page, not once but a few times to ensure that the gist has been absorbed and registered in your system.

Read Attentively
Edmund Burke once said, “to read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”  Find a quiet space bereft of noise or distraction. In the next few minutes or hours plod on the journey that the book is going to take you on. Create an ambiance that will complement your reading and do all within your means to make it comfortable and worth the while.

Make Reading a Habit
Embedding reading into your routine task is a stress reliever as well as a good habit to adopt into your daily routine. To have your mind active and engaged, keep reading to stretch your imagination and stimulate creativity.  Vary the literature from science to arts, from culture to philosophy. A diversified adventure in the content you read will help you formulate your own thoughts and values. This will also determine the person who you would end up being depending on how you act on it.

Slowly but Surely
Unfortunately to some people reading is not a preferred leisure activity on a calm and quiet weekend. However on the other hand people make it a conscious effort to adapt to a habit of reading to achieve a purpose. Slowly but surely this would hold them in good stead to gradually refresh their vocabulary to get them onto a higher platform in relation to their comprehension skills. Be assured that the more you read, the more it would magically seem that you understand things easier and better in less time.

Pay attention to the suggested tips and you’ll begin to unravel a new dimension to understanding better the content you are reading. Joseph Addison summed it up when he said “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” 


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