Strategies for Reading Comprehension
Vivian Franz, Ph.D.

  1. Define the task. Begin by clarifying your purposes in reading the specific material. If you are reading for study and for later recall, start with a mind-set for your desired outcomes. Adjust your reading style to fit the difficulty level of the material.

  2. Read carefully. Focus your attention on the important parts of the chapter. Identify the main ideas. If reading for a test, read to answer the assigned (or probable) questions.

  3. Give the text your full attention. While you are reading, check yourself periodically to be sure you are staying on task. Don't let your mind wander. (If your attention is wandering because you have been working for some time and are tired, take a short break. But then get back to work and focus on the task.)

  4. Repeatedly, monitor your level of understanding. Learn to recognize failure to comprehend a passage or a concept. If you do not understand, move to the next step.

  5. Reread to clarify, or scan ahead. Search for passages that will give you the information you need for full comprehension. Try reading the difficult sections aloud to yourself. See it, say it, and hear it.

  6. Use your dictionary and other references. If context clues aren't enough for problem vocabulary, use your dictionary or glossary. Or ask for help. Consider the possibility of selectively consulting texts of lesser difficulty to give yourself a better background for particular concepts. Use other texts as you need them to gain additional information on specific points.

  7. Write down important information. Use cards to write word meanings of specialized vocabulary, or to write the names of individuals who made important contributions to a given field. Make lists of important information, in sequence, as, for example, historical events. Now, see it, say it, hear it, write it.

  8. Get ready to summarize. Organize your information in ways that are meaningful to you. Outline or categorize. Use methods that work for you, but organize in terms of the information you need to remember.

  9. Summarize in your own words. Answer your questions. Tell yourself (or someone else) what you have learned. By this time, you should be thoroughly familiar with the concept of the chapter. A great feeling.

  10. Put your materials away a good hour before bedtime. Relax. Think of something else. Get a good night's rest.

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