One of the ways to improve your reading skills is to be proactive about improving your reading comprehension. After all, comprehension is the end goal, the whole point of reading in the first place.
Whether you are reading a text book for school, a report for work, blogs or articles to stay informed, or self-help books for your own development, there are steps you can take that will improve your ability to get what you need from the reading experience.
Four Tips to Improve Reading Comprehension
Reading Tip No. 1: Pre-read the material.
Depending on what you are reading, this can be as simple as skimming the table of contents, reading the first page of the introduction, skimming chapter titles, scanning the entire article for subheadings, jumping ahead and reading the last paragraph to grasp where the article will be taking you. The point is to give yourself a mental “map” of what you’ll be reading.
Reading Tip No. 2: Review the questions you want your reading experience to answer.
These might be formal questions that have been provided to you (for example, questions on a take-home quiz, questions at the end of a chapter, or questions you need to answer to create the outline for a term paper), or questions you need to determine for yourself. Are you looking for information regarding the demographics of a city for marketing purposes? Are you looking for the steps for building a planter box? Practical financial advice related to IRAs?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the content of a chapter or book (and even easier to get lost in the sea of information available online). Reminding yourself ahead of time of the answers you are seeking can help you stay focused and recognize the information you want when you come across it.
Reading Tip No. 3: Interact with the material as you read.
As you read, interact with what you are reading. Take written notes. Take audio notes. Highlight the text online. Use computer apps that work as sticky notes. Draw stick figures or diagrams that illustrate an insight you just got. Read an important paragraph aloud. The point is that the more ways you can reinforce ideas you want to remember through your own actions—note taking, drawing, speaking—the easier these ideas will be to remember.
Reading Tip No. 4: Review your answers to Tip No. 2.
Remember the questions you considered in Tip No. 2? Looking back at those questions, ask yourself if you got everything you needed from the material you just read. If not, go back and find the answer. Not sure where to look? The mental map you created in Tip No. 1 may help.
Work on your cognitive skills
Another way to improve your reading skills is to improve the cognitive skills your brain uses to read well. Here are three cognitive skills that are critical for successful reading:
Auditory Processing: This skill enables your brain to analyze, blend, and segment sounds. When this skill is weak, it can cause problems learning to read, reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension.
Visual Processing. This skill allows you to create mental pictures of what you are reading. When this skill is weak, it can cause problems understanding or remembering what you’ve just read.
Working Memory (also known as Short-Term Memory). This skill enables you to hang on to ideas while you are in the process of using or developing those ideas. Signs that this skill is weak include having to read the directions again in the middle of a project, having difficulty following multi-step instructions, or having to reread things several times before it can “sink in.”
If weak cognitive skills are keeping you from reading as easily and effectively as you’d like, there are mental exercises you can do that will strengthen each of these cognitive skills, and others, too. The process of using challenging mental exercises to strengthen brain skills is known as cognitive training or brain training.
Does brain training improve cognitive skills? Absolutely. In fact, the following graph shows the cognitive performance of 17,998 children and adults before and after brain training at LearningRx, a brain training company with 80 centers throughout the U.S.
The chart reveals dramatic gains in nine core areas of cognitive performance, including working memory, visual processing, and auditory processing. The scores are represented in percentiles, which show where someone ranks compared to 100 of their peers. Here are the results:
*These are the results of past clients. To learn more about brain training results, visit www.learningrx.com/results and download the full report.
If you would like to know if weak cognitive are making reading difficult, a one-hour Cognitive Assessment can help. You can schedule a Cognitive Assessment at any LearningRx Brain Training Center near you.
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