How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

Better understanding of written material can enrich your life and make it easier to become educated.
... Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

You can use a number of approaches to improve your reading comprehension, resulting in a greater facility to read and enjoy magazines, books and newspapers. To read effectively, you need to be interested in the subject, concentrate on the material you read, and develop a disciplined approach to reading.

Keep up to date on current events by reading a newspaper on a daily basis as well as current magazines, books and online publications. In fact, read anything that holds your interest, even if its purely hobby or amusement material. Developing an ongoing interest in the world around you promotes greater comprehension of the material you read.

Look at the framework of the paragraphs you read. All paragraphs are constructed to have a beginning, middle and end. The first sentence in a paragraph typically furnishes a brief overview of the remainder of the paragraph, which incorporates details or salient facts to support the initial idea. Look for transitional cues or words at the end that lead you to understanding the next paragraph as you're reading.

Look at how the reading material is organized and at the type of reasoning used by the author. For example, is the material organized topically, chronologically or by some other means? Understanding the reasoning and the organization of the material can better reinforce your understanding of anything you read.

Highlight certain key ideas, summarize the material, and review the relevant points. In other words, what knowledge did you acquire by reading a particular passage? Consider the specific points that the author is trying to convey and mentally rephrase them in your own words. Explaining the material to yourself will help you retain your understanding.

Look up words that you don't fully understand to develop more of an appreciation of the material you read, as well as better comprehension. Once you fully understand the word, reread the whole sentence or passage. You'll find that your better-nuanced understanding of the word greatly enriches your comprehension and retention of the text.

  • Vocalize words to slow you down and aid you in better comprehending the material you read.
  • Monitor your comprehension by reviewing key points in a paragraph. If you've missed an idea, reread the paragraph.
  • When looking up words, concentrate on the roots, prefixes and suffixes to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of a word.
  • Before reading material on a certain subject, make a list of four things you already know about the subject and write down a couple questions related to the material as well.

Ann Ryan has extensive experience writing articles online and off-line on a number of topics such as business, health and fitness, home and gardening, pets, travel and general interest subjects. She has also written copy for cartoonists and greeting card companies. While in college, Ryan majored in business administration.