How To Understand What You Read: 14 Top Strategies
This article has everything you need to know about understanding what you read.
Have you ever reached the end of a page only to realize you have lost yourself in thought? This is a common experience that almost all people experience at some point. Sometimes we may not have enough time or find certain reading material uninteresting, making it difficult to continue reading.
However, there’s excellent news – by learning how to read effectively and taking short notes, the reading process becomes simpler, faster, and more enjoyable. For more details, see Step 1.
How to Understand What You Read:
1. To read effectively, it is necessary to minimise distractions that can hinder your concentration.
It involves staying away from any electronic devices like computers, TVs and also avoiding any background music. Concentrating on challenging reading material is difficult when your attention is split. Therefore, creating a calm and cozy environment that’s free from distractions is extremely important for careful reading.
Plus, you can make reading fun by having a snack or drink, lighting a scented candle, or reading in the bath to make the experience as comfy as possible. This is particularly useful for reading material that you’re not specifically keen on.
2. It can be helpful to start by skimming the reading material before delving into a careful reading, particularly if the material is challenging.
This may involve peeking ahead to see the end without worrying about ruining the reading experience. If you must restart a paragraph, consider skimming the whole book or story to get a sense of the plot, main characters, and tone. This will provide direction and help you focus on the important elements as you continue to read more closely.
Alternatively, you can read book summaries online or refer to Cliff’s Notes (1) to make reading easier. However, it is vital to note that some teachers may disapprove of such shortcuts, and using them can result in lower grades. It is extremely important to remember to return and read the material carefully to get a full understanding of it.
3. One effective technique for improving reading comprehension is visualizing what you read.
You can imagine yourself as a film director, bringing characters and events to life in your mind. This can be achieved by visualizing the action as vividly as possible, representing characters with actors, or creating a mental picture of the setting.
This technique not only makes the reading experience more enjoyable but also helps you remember and understand what you have read. By using your imagination, you can engage more with the reading material and connect with the storyline.
4. Reading aloud is a way that can help maintain focus and interest in the material being read.
Some people find it easier to understand and interact with text when they read it aloud. You can find a quiet place, such as a locked room or basement, and read the material in a dramatic way.
This technique can be particularly useful if you tend to skim text too quickly, as it can help slow your reading speed. Also, if you find reading material uninteresting, reading it aloud can add a dramatic and interesting element to the experience.
5. It is advisable to research unfamiliar words, locations, or concepts encountered during the reading process.
While context clues can be helpful in identifying the meaning of unfamiliar elements, it is worth taking the time to understand references that may be unclear. This will make the reading process smoother and easier.
Plus, in an academic setting, researching an unfamiliar word or concept will often earn you extra points, making it a valuable habit to adopt.
6. It is extremely important to take breaks during the reading process.
Allow enough time to read, ensuring you have enough time to complete it without rushing it. Take frequent breaks after 45 minutes of reading and relax for 15 minutes or move on to other homework.
This allows the mind to rest and focus on other things for a while, guaranteeing you stay alert and engaged throughout the reading process. After your break, you can return to your reading material feeling refreshed and excited to continue.
7. An effective way to actively engage with text is to bookmark it.
You can write questions in the margins, underline interesting parts, or highlight important concepts and concepts. Some readers find that holding a pencil or highlighter makes them more active readers, giving them a sense of engagement while reading.
However, it is necessary not to overdo it, as highlighting or underlining too much can make it difficult to learn and understand the material later. Instead, highlight or underline strategically, based on what is most vital or relevant to the reading.
Additionally, creating character or plot maps can help visual learners (2) as it can aid in understanding the story and serve as a great tool for later learning.
8. To make reading difficult texts easier and more efficient, try reading one page at a time and writing a few summary sentences at the bottom of every page.
This will help you break up your reading into smaller, more manageable sections and make sure that you do not miss anything important. By summarizing what happened on each page, you can even better retain information and follow the story.
9. When you find something in your reading that’s difficult to understand, take note by writing down any questions you have.
These questions can be used as references when you discuss readings in class, or as a way to engage more deeply with the material. By writing down your questions, you give yourself the opportunity to clarify and deepen your understanding of what you read.
10. After reading, it is a good idea to take a moment to write down your reaction to the story.
Reflect on what you think is important, what you think the author meant, and how you felt reading. It does not need to be a text summary, but summarizing key points can be useful to help you remember what you have read.
11. Get together with your classmates or friends to discuss reading material, which can be a useful way of deepening your understanding and retaining information.
You can exchange your own reactions with others and compare them, and try to explain difficult or unclear passages from one another’s passages. Avoid simply describing reading as “boring,” and instead, offer your own insights to help your friend. If you do not have anyone to talk to, try speaking your thoughts out loud to yourself as this can even help with the learning process.
12. Consider asking open-ended questions to investigate the material.
Make a list of questions in your notebook that could be interesting discussion points to raise during class or study groups. Although some teachers may assign this assignment, it can help you engage in reading.
Avoid asking questions that have one-word answers like “yes” or “no”. Asking “how” questions can encourage deeper reflection and stimulate deeper thinking.
13. Use sticky notes to bookmark important pages that you may want to refer to later.
By doing this, you can quickly find specific pages or sections that you may need to refer to, rather than wasting time trying to find them later.
14. Imagine yourself as a character and try to understand how you would act if you were in their shoes.
Think about how you would feel if the main character was in your class or room, or how it would be like to be married to them. Discuss your thoughts with other people who have read the same book and compare your answers.
Analyzing a text from multiple perspectives can help you understand and appreciate a book better. So, immerse yourself in the book and try to connect with the characters to enhance your reading experience.
In order to make sense of what you read, there are several strategies you can use. First, you should try to remove distractions and focus on the text. If you come across an unfamiliar word, location, or idea, you should look it up.
Take frequent breaks while reading and try to highlight text, writing questions in the margins and highlighting important concepts. It can be helpful to write a few summary sentences at the bottom of every page and write down any questions you have about what you read.
When you have finished reading, you can write down your reactions, discuss the reading with classmates, and think of open-ended questions that explore the reading. You can even put yourself in the character’s shoes to better understand and interact with the text.
Thank you for reading this article on how to make sense of what you read and I actually hope you take action on my advice.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.