Whether you are a veteran at reading or just starting to get into adult reading for the first time, you know that reading isn’t quite the same as before. It might be taking you more time to process what you are reading, or maybe you’re looking to speed up your reading overall. Whatever the case may be, what’s truly blocking you from getting up to the right reading speed is the lack of a reading strategy.
I’ve been there plenty of times before, and thanks to the various reading strategies I’ll be talking about, you can devise a reading comprehension strategy to make you understand and read things faster than before.
Here are nine effective reading strategies for quick comprehension:
1. Read With a Purpose
The first strategy that I’d suggest employing is to read with a purpose. This is my go-to strategy for quick comprehension. As I’ve expressed in the past, life is very fast-paced, and reading a book allows me to slow down as I give myself fully to the book, regardless of the genre.
The reason I approach my reading this way is that if your brain is distracted or unable to process the information presented, then you’ll lose that information.
Another way you can look at this is to read with a purpose in mind. You’ll lose that information if you don’t focus on that purpose for reading.
Knowing how to read with a purpose is a matter of grouping books into three categories:
- Books that strengthen a skill – These books are packed with knowledge consolidated over the years that you can quickly access.
- Books that share success stories and allow you to learn about a person’s struggles and failures – Even though your circumstances are different, reading about a big name in a field you’re interested in humanizes the process you’re going through right now.
- Books that let you experience life in a different way than yours – These books provide profound insights into other life experiences and help you understand people on a deeper level.
By grouping books into these categories, you have a clear purpose for reading each book and processing information in that manner.
I’ve read many books over the years, of course, and one thing you’ll quickly find is that many authors—in non-fiction books specifically—will talk about similar concepts. While an author’s view will be different, some concepts are consistent across the board.
This is where this strategy truly shines as this is all about previewing a text and tapping into what you already know about the subject. While a book or an article could expand your knowledge of something, this can speed up your reading time and understanding because the author is talking about something you’re already familiar with.
There’s no point in reading over something you already know, so it’s easier and faster to move on to how the author uses that information instead.
Expanding from previewing, the idea with this is that you’re making predictions about what the book or article you’re about to read is like. It sets up expectations.
For example, when you read the title of this post, you expect reading strategies to make comprehension easier. You’re not expecting anything else but that.
This same concept holds true with any book you read. Of course, you’ll make adjustments to your prediction as you read through, but like previewing, you are still brushing over pieces of information that you’re already familiar with or that you expected to be there.
4. Identifying the Main Point
Every book has a summary to entice readers, but you can provide more in-depth summarization as you’re going through chapters of a book. If you’re looking for faster comprehension of a book, you must find the main idea that the book is presenting to you. Furthermore, by putting it into your words, you’ll have a better grasp of it.
The main point of the book could also be explained in the preface section. Most non-fiction books are set-up in a way where they explain their arguing points of why something matters and why you should continue reading. From there, they’ll discuss what the book contains.
Oftentimes, the main point is in there and you can use that as a blanket statement for the rest of the book. Knowing the main point of the book allows you to put information into context. They’re explaining this concept because it ties into the main point they’re trying to convey.
This saves you a lot of time on reading since if you’re even somewhat familiar with the topic, you can gloss over information with the other methods. Furthermore, you’ll be able to retain this information better as you can describe the main point of a book in a single sentence in the future.
While you are preparing to read a book, another key reading strategy is to have questions in mind. This may require you to briefly skim through the book and ask yourself questions based on what you skimmed. Questions can stem from various sentences or even the titles or headlines that authors use.
By creating questions, you then begin to focus on answering those questions. Naturally, this brings comprehension quickly as the book ought to be equipped to answer those questions.
How you go about asking these questions is up to you. You could think of them and hold onto them, or you could consider writing them on the right margin of the page where you got that question. As you read through the book, you could mention the answer on the left margin or underline the answer and note the page number underneath the question you asked.
This is all about reading between the lines—a skill that not many people have or are hesitant to use. Inferring is a reading strategy that can seem like it would backfire as people’s interpretation of something could be off from what the author intends to convey. But that’s further from the truth as inferring is a process of learning and something you can develop over time.
It’s fine if you’re wrong about things as inferring encourages more of discovering and absorbing information on a deeper level. This naturally increases your comprehension of a topic.
Inferring, in the end, is all about drawing your own conclusions. An author presents information that you can then deduce for yourself and develop all kinds of questions. What do they mean by this? How does this fit in with everything else they’ve said thus far?
Again, even if you’re wrong with the answers to those questions later on in the book, there’s still knowledge to be gained. The answers that you have created could spark new questions or understanding. And when an author presents something different from yours, then your knowledge still expands with that in mind.
If you happen to be right, then you save yourself a lengthy explanation, which cuts down on reading time and comprehension.
Visualizing covers the creative side of things and is one of the more thrilling methods of quickly comprehending something. Even if you’re reading a non-fiction book or article, visualizing is still a helpful tool.
The idea is to be crafting, drawing, or making mental images of the information that you have. If the author outlines a system for you to use, look at the various aspects of that system. Visualize yourself performing these specific actions. Things like these keep you invested in learning and understanding more since you’re using both sides of the brain to digest information.
Visualizing also keeps you invested because it answers the question, “how is this relevant to me?” We read books because of specific emotional or personal reasons and visualizing can help you in answering that question, especially how you see it fitting in your life.
Stemming from inferring and predicting, monitoring/clarifying as a reading strategy is taking your deductions and comparing them to what you are actually reading. In many cases, your understanding of something can be different from what the author is stating, and from that comes a deeper understanding of the information. This can also stem from questioning strategies as you are searching for clarity in those answers.
The final reading strategy stems from questioning where you are looking for answers—similar to clarifying. The difference between searching and clarifying is that clarifying is designed for a general understanding.
For searching, you’re looking to find information that backs up and reinforces what you wish to be learning about. This puts you in a situation where you’re defining things that you’re uncertain about, and it allows you to solve problems that you still have with the text.
Comprehending what you’re reading involves having a system of reading strategies that you can easily tap into. Effective readers will employ several of these strategies to rapidly understand what they’re reading.
As such, I would strongly encourage you to employ these methods and experiment. Find out what works for you and develop a reading strategy that works best for you.
More Essential Reading Strategies
- 4 Effective Strategies To Remember Everything You Read
- How to Read Faster: 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed
- 16 Skills To Make Your Reading More Productive
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