Strategies for Effective Reading Comprehension

Strategies for Effective Reading Comprehension

Did you know that the simple activity of “good reading” is not as simple as you thought? In fact, it involves a series of complex skills that need to be ingrained into our brains and perfected by regular practice. Who would've thought that Hercule Poirot and Scarlett O'Hara became masterpieces only after they underwent such intricacies to please the complex creases of the mind!

Research about reading comprehension dates way back to the 1970s and 80s. In such research, a strong reciprocal relationship was established between prior knowledge and reading comprehension abilities. The more one knows, the more one understands. The question that arises here is: Where do I start? Let's find out.

Text selection

Selecting the right text plays an important role in reading comprehension. Do you choose reading material based on the cover, fonts, pictures and number of pages of the book? Then you are one of those people who have a limited range of books to choose from. Nevertheless, choice sparks interest and motivation since it establishes a prior predilection. If you like a book judging by its cover, you would want to read and this would aid in comprehension.

A little insider: I had bought “To Kill a Mockingbird” judging by its cover, which had a silhouette of a little girl swinging on a tyre. And did it take me on an amazing journey!

Creating mental images

Visualization is the act of creating mental images of the text to understand it better. Also known as brain movies, visualization helps not only in comprehension, but in retention and connecting with the text as well. Did you know that brain movies can be more interesting than an Al Pacino series? If you are a teacher, you can try out the following:

  • Select a poem or a reading passage with a vivid language.
  • Share photographs, websites and other images to help set the stage.
  • Recommend your students to imagine the characters, setting and action as you move along the text.
  • Read with pauses to let students figure out a brain movie.
  • When you are finished with the passage, discuss about the movies conjured by your students.

It would be a great teaching experience, trust me. And don't forget to share the experience to extend learning.

Prioritizing information

Just the inculcating reading habits is essential, so is developing quick reading comprehension. While going through a long length of text, the most common practice is skipping certain clusters of information to get to the one the reader requires. You might actually get something out of it if you categorize your text based on what you need. Your best bet is to identify the passages you absolutely can't skip from among the sea of texts washing over you. Sorting through information would also reduce the unnecessary text-overload, enhancing your ability to grasp the interpretation.

Recommended Read: How to double your reading speed

Generating and answering questions

Ask questions while you read. This is because questions not only help you think actively while you read, but also gives you a purpose for reading. In addition to that, the Question Answer Relationship (QAR) strategies help to determine whether the information that you have used to answer the questions about the text is:

  • Textually explicit information (where the answer is stated in the text itself)
  • Textually implicit information (where the answer is implied in the text)
  • Deduced from the reader's background knowledge

Questions can be of 4 types:

  • Pointing to a single answer.For example: Where does Sherlock Holmes live? Answer: 221B Baker Street, London
  • Questions based on recall of previous incidents in the text.Question: What is a brain movie? Answer: Visualization of text-based
  • Questions that require you to use your prior knowledge along with the text.Question: How do you think Rick felt when he found out that he had been betrayed? Answer: Rick was devastated and couldn't believe his best friend could hurt him so much.
  • Questions which do not require any text support.Question: How would you feel if you had to relocate every few months? Only you can answer that.


Summarizing for reinstating the facts in a simpler and more succinct manner to highlight the facts and crucial information. In a series of studies conducted by teachers, it was determined that summarizing has a substantial positive effect on students for understanding academic content. Summarizing helps in:

  • Identifying the main ideas
  • Connecting the primary ideas
  • Eliminating unnecessary information
  • Retaining information

In addition to all of the above, students can study in groups or opt for a guided practice to help them in reading comprehension.

What other strategies do you think could help in reading comprehension? Tell us in the comments section below.


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