The best tips on how to improve reading comprehension.
Most students and (some) professionals find difficulties in grasping important information while reading.
This is not uncommon. We all experience the same challenge sometimes. Fortunately, you can do something to bring back your alertness and focus.
All you need is effective strategies. That’s right. Reading requires a game plan. You can’t just sit in your study room and let your mind roam while reading.
Here are the effective 5 tips on how to improve reading comprehension:
1. Determine your own effective time to study
All of us have the different time of a day wherein our brain is active. For some people, the perfect time for studying is the first 2-4 hours after waking up in the morning. For some, however, the peak time is between 10-12 noon. This is the best time when the brain is active and capable of storing new information.
The benefits of having known your study time are that you’ll be able to maximize your cognitive potential. Instead of studying for long hours without comprehending, studying in your own study time allows you to cut down the time necessary to study.
But even if you study at your most effective time, you still need to free yourself from any distractions. Turn off all the gadgets that may disturb you. When your ears and eyes are attending to several stimuli at a time, you’ll most likely to miss the information you need. Dividing your attention is simply unproductive.
2. Study shorter, not longer
The tradition tips on how to improve reading comprehension often include a considerable length of time. Many believe that the longer you study, the more you learn.
However, scientific findings found the opposite. In fact, the longer you study, the more likely that you will not be able to remember what you have studied. Why?
In contrast to common belief, the brain’s focus would only last for 25-30 minutes. Beyond that, the brain could no longer concentrate. This means that the longer you study, the lesser the learning outcome.
So what is the best choice? Study shortly. This does not mean that you cut down your study time and procrastinate. What this really means is that you just divide your study time.
For instance, if you plan to study for one hour before bed, what you need to do is study for 25 minutes and then stop. Stand up and do something else for about 5 minutes. It has not to be related to your study session. It could be anything that is completely irrelevant to your school work.
Then, after a break, when you feel ready to read again, just sit down and set your alarm for another 25 minutes.
The next thing you need to do is practice your exam. Create possible questions that your teacher will most likely to include in the test. Again, set a time to finish the items. This simple exercise will help your brain respond more quickly and accurately in the upcoming exam.
Lastly, when you are studying your lesson, say it loud. That’s right. This worked for me sometimes. Your brain picks up what your ear has heard. For some people, this technique works better than simply studying quietly. But make sure that you don’t disturb your roommate.
3. Write a summary of what you have just read
Other tips on how to improve reading comprehension involve text highlighting. Most students believe that by highlighting helps store the information they need in their memory.
But scientific findings suggest the opposite. In fact, highlighting will not do any good. Why? Because highlighting does not ignite cognitive function.
The better to do when you are reading is writing a summary of what you’ve read. Summarizing activates the cognitive process. As a result, the information will be easier to retrieve later on.
By making a summary of information, your brain is already building a neural connection to hold that new information even before a formal study session begins.
While reading, pick the most important ideas and concepts you think helpful or significant. This will not only help you remember what you study later on but also allows you to enhance your critical thinking.
4. Share what you’ve learned
Now that you think you already have everything you need, it is time to test what you have got. The next thing you need to do is share it with others. Tell what you have learned to others the way you tell stories to your friends.
Telling what you’ve learned is one way of assessing whether or not you really grasped the ideas and concepts. If you can’t explain it to others, it means that you don’t really understand it.
That’s okay. You don’t need to be perfect. Just go back and read again. What is more important is the fact that you know the areas that need improvement.
5. Review your material every now and then
Even if you think you got it, there’s no guarantee that you will remember all the ideas during the exam. This is because most of the information we store belong to the short-term memory.
This means that it is most likely that you’ll lose it. The best thing you can do is to continuously activate them through constant revisiting. This is the reason why studying two weeks before the exam is super effective for you to remember most of what you have studied.
The more you revisit your notes, the more you notice that everything becomes easier to remember. This is because the constantly learning strengthens the neural connection which in turn makes the information less likely to vanish in your memory.
Here you go. You’ve come to this point. I hope that these tips on how to improve reading comprehension would help you in your journey. If you want to add something, just feel free to leave your comment below.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.