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How Can I Improve My Reading Skills?

By Licia Morrow
Updated May 23, 2024
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Reading skills are a fundamental part of learning and education. Reading plays a part in any subject whether a student attempts to understand a difficult piece of literature, tackle a scientific concept, or comprehend a math problem. While a solid education can teach a person how to read, there are individuals who are unable to read well for meaning and understanding. The following strategies can assist anyone wishing to read for deeper comprehension and improve reading skills.

The first step in approaching a piece of writing is to read with a pen or pencil in hand. By marking unfamiliar concepts, making notes, placing questions marks next to particularly difficult concepts, or highlighting important phrases or passages, an individual can become fully engaged with the text.

Before trying to tackle specific points in an article, chapter, or passage, it is important to first skim the text, looking for clues. This is a vital strategy to improve reading skills. For example, many textbooks utilize bold print, section headings, and images to organize the information found in each section. Surveying in this way can put readers in touch with the different parts of the piece and should be seen by the reader as important tools. Readers can first do an overview of their reading to unravel the mystery of what is to come, which will, in turn, enhance their mastery of the reading and their involvement with it.

Once these two strategies are utilized, it is important to dig deeper into any concepts, ideas, theories, or problems that are not immediately understood and mastered by the reader. For example, if one comes upon an unfamiliar word, it is important to look it up in a dictionary or on the internet. A mastery of the vocabulary in a particular work can improve an understanding of not only specific passages, but the work as a whole. Additionally, a reader can look at the bibliography provided by the author as a source for additional information.

An additional strategy to implement when attempting to improve reading skills is questioning. It is important for the reader to remain attentive to the text and questioning is an excellent way to do this. For example, while reading, a reader may ask questions of him or herself such as, “What is the character’s motivation?” or “How does this scientific principle apply to things I have already experienced?” or “In what way might I apply this mathematical concept to a job or activity in real life?”

Summarizing and reviewing is the final step in improving reading skills. By revisiting the ideas, vocabulary, and information provided by the text, readers can solidify their understanding of it. Writing out a brief summary which includes the most important points can also assist in improving reading skills by forcing the reader to think critically and focus on main ideas.

While seeking out advice on reading comprehension can be helpful, oftentimes it can be even more advantageous working through your specific struggles with 1:1 tutoring sessions.

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Discussion Comments
By anon190894 — On Jun 27, 2011

I am participating in a reading competition. I'll have to read an authentic and difficult text to the audience, and I can't prepare the text. I'll read it for the first time. Please help me!

By suntan12 — On Jul 19, 2010

SurfNturf- I homeschool my daughter and what I do to develop her reading comprehension is have her write down five sentences about the story.

By doing this recap exercise she not only expects me to ask her questions about the story, but begins to focus more on the details along with the main idea.

Story maps are also effective. Here the child writes the main idea in one box and then writes the significant events that happened in the story in each sequential box. This also helps develop reading comprehension skills. I sometimes use that method as well.

By surfNturf — On Jul 19, 2010

Crispety- I agree with you. Another good strategy involves asking the child what will happen next in a story.

This activity trains the mind to sequence events in a story which ends up developing reading comprehension.

By Crispety — On Jul 19, 2010

A great way for children to build their reading comprehension is by looking inside of a book and seeing the pictures.

Understanding the clues that are offered by looking at the pictures helps the child understand some basic information regarding the story.

This skimming approach allows the child begin to develop some insight as to what the book is about.

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