how to improve your understanding of text

Katya , 11-20-2015

Before you spend any of your valuable time on reading, you need to have a strategy. Below, I laid out my own reading strategy. I also provide a download for you to keep.

First, decide what is in front of you. Is it a report, article, chapter from a textbook, fiction book or a legal brief etc.…

Then get all your numbers:

How many pages does it have?

How many parts can you divide it into?

How many pages / parts will you read today?

How much time do you have?

Now, read the title and then first and last paragraph.

Answer the questions below (Step #1):

What is the main idea of the text?

Why was it written and what is the author trying to do?

Is he looking to inform, persuade or entertain?

Next step is asking yourself about what you already know.

What do I already know about this topic? Where have I heard / learned this for the first time? (Step #2)

We like to read about stuff we are familiar with or had experience with before. I believe it is essential to get in touch with your prior knowledge about the subject before encoding new stuff. It has a lot to do with the way our brain works.

you activate your previous insights, blood starts flowing into the areas of the brain that stores relevant information. That way we bring information to the working memory, which ultimately makes it easier to understand and remember the new information.

How do you Activate Background Knowledge?

Give yourself 90 seconds to answer what you already know. Writing stuff down produces best results. Check out the download provided. You can recall some facts or concepts, write them down one after another in sequence. Try not to use full sentences and bring mindmaps into play.

After you activated your background knowledge and familiarized yourself with the text, now is the time to set goals for your reading.

Some reading instructors recommend to set the goals first, but every time I tried to set goals that way, I always ended up with goals that were too general and sometimes even off target.

Once you are clear what this text is about and what you already know, you can put your “mental hooks” out to catch what you want. When your brain has a concrete purpose it is on the alert to locate the exact information you require. That’s why I added Step # 3.

What do I want to know? (Step #3)?

This gets you further involved. I also suggest that you anticipate the answers and see if you were right or wrong.

Once the reading is done, I suggest going back to the download and filling out Step #4.

What have I just learned? (Step #4)

Try to answer all the questions you posed in Step #3.

Lastly, estimate your level of comprehension and determine what you can do to improve your reading comprehension next time.