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7 Tips to Improve Reading Comprehension

Brightwood College student reading a textbook

Have you ever read a page or even a paragraph only to get to the end and realize you do not remember or understand what you just read? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. However, if this happens frequently, it may be a sign that you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills.

Patrick Steele, instructional designer for Brightwood College, has experience working with students, creating study materials and assisting with reading comprehension.

“Reading comprehension is extremely important for students in any field,” Steele says. “The better your reading comprehension, the more you get out of the act of reading. It becomes a richer experience, which in turn enriches your thinking.”

Reading helps develop valuable critical thinking skills, skills that students can carry with them and use in class and on the job. Check out these seven tips Steele has to share on how to improve your reading comprehension.

Tips and Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension

1. Read as often as possible.

Don’t read just when it’s required for class. Students should read for pleasure, as well. This type of reading will build skills that come in handy when reading assigned material for school. The key is to keep trying even when encountering difficult material.

2. Read all kinds of different texts. And read what you like!

When reading on their own, students should read what they find enjoyable, whether learning about a new concept, following current events or being immersed in a fictional story. Students should feel free to read from a variety of sources and always remember to be open-minded and to think critically.

3. Eliminate distractions.

This means no music or television in the background, and put away your phone! Set aside time and dedicate your undivided attention to whatever you’re reading.

4. Read with a purpose.

Before beginning, look at the title of the book or article and peruse any introductory information you find. Try to determine what you should look for while reading even before you start.

5. Look up unfamiliar terms.

If you can not define a term based on its context, stop reading and look it up in a dictionary. If you are studying anything technical, these new terms will likely soon become part of your vocabulary, so it is important to learn them now!

6. Highlight key concepts and terms.

When you come across a definition or an important sentence with information that will be valuable later, stop and highlight it. Reading the sentence again while highlighting will help you retain the information. Highlighting important material and key concepts and terms will make them easier to find later.

Do not highlight everything, though. Be selective about what you choose to highlight. A page covered in yellow only serves as a distraction and does not help when returning to a text later on. Stick with key ideas and phrases.

7. Summarize.

When you finish reading, stop and summarize what you read. This will help you identify any gaps in information that should be reviewed further.

You can summarize by writing down a brief outline or a few sentences. A great way to summarize is to get involved in a discussion. Different people may pick up different key ideas and aspects of a text, and you can benefit from understanding a text from different perspectives. Understanding these viewpoints can help make reading more meaningful.

Reading Comprehension Strategies in the Real World

Reading comprehension is important for school, but is also a valuable skill you will use in your job and everyday life. Improving reading comprehension can help you better understand and follow guidelines, regulations and rules.

Steele says this is especially true for anyone working in fields where safety is a concern, such as trades or healthcare.

“Think about the hazards and potential liability trades workers encounter,” says Steele. “Being able to read and understand guidelines is essential for safety and compliance with industry standards.”

Want to improve more than just your reading comprehension skills? Learn more about training for a new career! Request more information from Brightwood College or give us a call at (866) 543-0208.