After reading a useful document, it's not uncommon to experience the frustration of not understanding what was read. This is caused by a loss of focus as the mind wanders, or difficulty comprehending the vocabulary or meaning. Reading strategies provide a structured method of approaching a text that allows readers to focus and better comprehend the material. They should be employed before, during and after any reading.


Using prior knowledge is a valuable pre-reading strategy. Consider what you already know about what you are about to read. This allows you to mentally leap from what you know to what you will learn. Check the text to ensure it is large enough and in a font you can easily read. Avoid reading from a screen for long periods of time. Rather, when possible, print text out and read from paper. Make sure the room is adequately lit to avoid straining your eyes while reading.

Know Your Purpose

Set a clear objective for what you want to learn, and what you hope to achieve while reading. Ask yourself why you are reading the material and examine it to be sure it's going to meet your purpose. Do this by reading the introduction and chapter headings. These will give you an overall idea of what the book covers. Determining your purpose gives you structure and helps you stay focused.

Active Reading

Use context clues to assist comprehension by figuring out new words based on the context. Make predictions about what will happen next and clarify what is being read through visualization. If you're listening to a story being read, it may be helpful to draw a picture as you listen. Highlight and underline important information and take notes to be reviewed later. Write down questions you want answered and ideas you have as you read. These strategies will keep you focused on what you are reading and allow you to better comprehend the text.


After reading, evaluate the text and decide what your opinion is on the subject. Verbalize or write out a summary to demonstrate understanding and ensure you have grasped key points. Rereading the material will help you pick up explanations or details you missed the first time. Discuss what you read with others. They may have different opinions and ideas on the subject, which will provide you with a broader perspective of the text.