Reading Help For Adults

One of the ways to help adults strengthen reading skills is to be improve reading comprehension. After all, understanding what you are reading is the point of reading.

Whether you are reading a report for work, blogs, self-help books for your own development, or articles to stay informed, the following steps will help you get the most out of what you are reading.

Follow these helpful steps to improve your reading comprehension

Step 1: Pre-read the material.

Of course this will vary based on what you are reading, but this step can be as simple as skimming the table of contents, reading the introduction, browsing chapter titles, scanning the whole article for subheadings, or jumping ahead to the very last paragraph to see where the article will be taking you. The point with this step is to give yourself a mental “map” of what you’ll be reading.

Step 2: Review any questions you want to answer.

Perhaps these are formal questions (for example, questions on a quiz or discussion questions at the end of a chapter), or things you need to understand and apply. For example, are you looking for information regarding the demographics of a city for marketing purposes? Are you looking for instructions on how to build a planter box? Do you need practical financial advice related to IRAs?

Even as an adult, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the content of an article, report, or book (and even easier to get lost in all the information that is available online). Staying focused on the answers you are seeking can keep you from getting distracted, and help you recognize the information you need when you come across it.

Step 3: Interact with the material you are reading.

As you read, interact with what you are reading. Write things down. Highlight. Take audio notes. Use computer apps that work as sticky notes. Draw stick figures or diagrams to represent an insight you just got. Read key points aloud. The more ways you can reinforce the ideas you want to remember through your own actions—note taking, speaking, drawing—the easier it will be to understand, remember, and apply this information when you need it.

Step 4: Go back and review your answers to Step 2.

Remember the questions you reviewed in Step 2? With those questions in mind, ask yourself if you found what you needed in the material you just read. If not, go back and look again. Not sure where to look? The “mental map” you created when you pre-read the material in Step 1 may help.

Stronger cognitive skills can help reading skills

Yet another way for adults to improve their reading skills is to strengthen the cognitive skills the brain uses to read well. Here are three of the numerous cognitive skills that are critical for successful reading:

Visual Processing. This is the skill that 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.

Auditory Processing: This is the skill that enables your brain to analyze, blend, and segment sounds. When this skill is weak, it typically creates problems learning to read, reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension.

Working Memory (also known as Short-Term Memory). This is the skill that enables you to retain information or ideas while you are in the process of using that information or developing those ideas. Signs that working memory is weak include having to revisit the instructions in the middle of a project, having difficulty following multi-step directions, or feeling the need to reread things several times before it “sinks in.”

If weak cognitive skills are keeping you from reading as well as you’d like, there are mental exercises you can do that will target, train, and strengthen your cognitive skills. The process of using challenging mental exercises to strengthen brain skills is known as cognitive training or brain training.

Does brain training help cognitive skills? See for yourself. The following graph shows the cognitive performance of 17,998 kids and adults before and after completing brain training at one of 80 LearningRx brain training centers throughout the nation.

The chart shows dramatic improvements in nine core areas of cognitive performance, including visual processing, working memory, and auditory processing. The scores are shown in percentiles, which reveal where someone ranks compared to 100 of their peers. Here are the results:

Graph of Pre and Post Percentiles of clients before and after cognitive training

*These are the results of past clients. To learn more about brain training results, visit and download the full report.

The only way to know for sure if your reading skills are being impacted by cognitive weaknesses is to schedule a Cognitive Assessment. You can schedule a Cognitive Assessment at any LearningRx Brain Training Center near you. The test takes about an hour and will give you invaluable insights into the cause—as well as the best intervention—for adult reading struggles.