Reading strategies improve comprehension of difficult texts.

After reading a useful document or book, experiencing frustration of not understanding what you've read is not uncommon. This frustration and lack of comprehension can be caused by a loss of focus as the mind wanders or in difficulty comprehending text vocabulary or meaning. Different types of reading strategies provide a structured method of approaching a text that allows readers to focus and better comprehend the material. The strategies should be employed before, during and after any reading.

Preparing to Read with Strategies

Before even beginning to read a book, there are kinds of reading strategies that help reduce distractions and obstacles. Using prior knowledge is a valuable pre-reading strategy. Consider what you already know regarding the subject matter of your reading material. 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. When possible, print text out and read from paper. Make sure the room is adequately lit to avoid straining your eyes while reading.

Knowing 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 think about how it might engage you or introduce new material. 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 Techniques

Active reading techniques use context clues to assist comprehension by figuring out new words based on the context of surrounding words. Make predictions about what will happen next and clarify what is being read through visualization. If you're listening to a story being read, draw a picture of the story line 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.

Post-reading Techniques

After reading, evaluate the text and decide what your opinion is on the book's 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. Another reading techniques option is share 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.