Have you ever found yourself reading an
assignment for class then completely forgetting what you just
read? It has happened to many of us but
by making a few changes in your reading habits, you can improve
your reading retention. Here are some tips
to help improve your reading comprehension:
Skim through the chapter before reading it. Look
at the text features such as the title, captions, pictures,
diagrams, bold print, etc. Also look at the introduction and
chapter summary. This will help you estimate
the time it will take to read the chapter and how to budget that
Read early in the day instead of late at night.
You will be able to concentrate and retain more information when
you are wide awake rather than when you are tired.
It's also a good idea to read in between
Read for short periods of time instead of one long
sitting. Read for about 35-40 minutes then take a short break.
This will enable you to focus on the material and increase
Find a quiet area to read. Usually residence
halls or dorm lounges are not the best places to read. There
are too many distractions that are not beneficial for quality
reading. The library or study lounges on campus are great
places to get reading and other work completed.
Monitor your own comprehension. Every once in a
while ask yourself what you have learned or what the section you
just read was about. If you are unable to answer then re-read
the selection or ask a classmate or the
Are you a student who highlights what you read? This is
sometimes a helpful tool but you must be careful because always
highlighting what you read may cause you to become a passive
reader. Passive readers are continually re-reading the highlighted material
and may have the tendency to become lazy
readers, just highlighting a majority of the text. Therefore when you go back to your reading,
you may not know what they key points were of that selection.
Are you a student who reads the material hours at a time just to
get it done? Even though you think you are saving time by
getting it all out of the way at once, you are actually hurting
yourself in the long run. When you read it all at once you
become a lazy reader and develop a lower retention of the
material. Instead of really focusing your attention on the
critical points, you are more likely to day dream or space out.
One way to improve your reading is to use the SQ3R Method
Survey: Look over the reading
selection and get an idea of what it is about by looking at the
headings, pictures, and summary
Question: Ask yourself, “What is this
selection about?” and also look for examples that support the
author’s point in the selection
Now you can read the material. Jot down any questions that you
may have as well as important
vocabulary words and
concepts. Continue asking yourself questions to make sure you
understand what you are reading.
Review: Try to review a couple times a
week. By reviewing, you will be able to see the big picture of
the main ideas introduced. The more you review the material,
the better your understanding will be of that topic.
Recite: The best way to practice the
material you are reviewing is by saying it out loud. This
technique helps because you are using both sides of your brain.
Another method is to design your own question notes
Divide your paper so you have questions in the
left column and answers in the right.
Skim through the reading and create questions that
you think could be on the test from the chapter headings.
Look for words that are in bold print, such as
terms. Make sure that you provide an example with the term, not
just its definition. This will help you learn the material, not
just memorize it.
Go through the material again and answer your
Five Thinking Strategies of Good Readers
Predict- Good readers make predictions about
events, outcomes, and conclusions.
Picture- Form images in your head from the words
and ideas on the page that will help you relate to the material.
Relate- Draw comparisons between your existing
knowledge to the new information you are reading.
Monitor- Check for your understanding of the text
while you read by keeping a summary of the new information as it
is presented to you.
Correct gaps in understanding- If you find gaps in
your comprehension of what you are reading, do not just keep
reading. Stop and resolve what the problem is by rereading a
sentence or looking back to a previous section for further