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Top 7 Strategies To Improve Reading Comprehension skills.

Reading is one of the most essential skills any student must possess. However, a number of students (especially younger ones) find it challenging to master.

As they keep on reading throughout the years, they get acquainted with various new concepts that challenge their reading capabilities.

But fear not!

There are many comprehension strategies a child (or even a grown-up) can practice in order to improve their English reading skills. This will enable them to understand the reading passage better and subsequently get higher marks in the reading comprehension section of the exam.

There are many different strategies one can employ to achieve this goal but, in this article, we have compiled the most effective ones.


1. The Visualization Strategy.

Using the visualization strategy means using one’s imagination to create an image in your head which corresponds to the text. By engaging your creativity and imagining the events described in the text you can figure out the meaning of the text much better.

In order to master this technique, you need to read the same text several times. After reading a paragraph just close your eyes and imagine the situation you have just read about. Once you get sufficiently good at it your brain will even be able to imagine the taste or smell of the objects that were described in the passage.


2. The Questioning Strategy

The questioning strategy enables students to ask questions about the things they have just read and further explore the text. Rather than simply reading the text and memorizing the information presented in it you’re trying to dig deeper and ask yourself follow-up questions about the characters or the events.

Mastering this strategy is relatively easy. One way to do it is by reading the title and then creating a list of the issues you think will be discussed in the text. After reading the passage look at your set of topics and see which ones were present in the text. This technique requires a more focused approach since you have to scratch beneath the surface and look at the characters’ motivation. Use your background knowledge.

The things you have experienced throughout your life will help you understand your reading passage better. For example, you can use your own experiences to try to identify with the characters' feelings in the story. This will help you better understand their motivation. The more background knowledge a student has the easier it is for them to comprehend a certain topic.


3. Analyze the Structure of the Text

In order to understand the text better, you might need to analyze its structure. Students should be able to notice various ways in which writers present their texts to readers. The structure of the text has an effect on meaning as well.

To master the strategy you can read the text out loud stopping at key points and thinking about what you have just read. Try to identify the structural elements the author uses to convey meaning.

Does he use metaphors, exaggerations, similes, etc.?

If these structural elements form a pattern that recurs throughout the text, this will make it easier for you to read that author's work in the future. Initially, you can take notes to make the entire process easier.


4. Reading between the lines

Highly skilled authors are known to camouflage the meaning and symbolism of their texts, so if you want to fully understand what they wanted to say you should be good at inferring.

This means understanding the subtle subtext and not just what has been written directly. If you have well-developed critical thinking skills reading between the lines will come naturally to you.


5. Summarizing strategy

This is probably the one technique we are all familiar with. In brief, you need to read the entire text and then retell it in your own words. This strategy helps students identify the main events of the text and make a distinction between vital and supplementary plot points.

Saying the summary of the text out loud is good, but writing it down is even better. Once you have finished doing this reread the passage again to make sure that you have caught all the key points.


6. Use text which is at the right level

One thing to remember about reading comprehension is that it is developed gradually, in stages. If you give a 10-year-old a book by Hemingway they simply will not be able to understand the deeper meaning behind the story and it will not be their fault.

It is, of course, important to challenge the brain by introducing new ideas and concepts, but if you make it too hard then the child may lose their desire to read altogether.

You must at the same time, improve your vocabulary. All texts consist of words and if you don’t know the meaning of many of those words then you will not be able to understand the meaning.

So being aware of multiple meanings of the same word or being aware of the different contextual connotations will help you comprehend the meaning of the overall text much better.

There are various online resources that can help you improve your vocabulary. You can take online vocabulary quizzes, use flashcards, make a list of unfamiliar words and try to use them in a sentence, and so on.


7. Break the reading up into smaller sections.

If you are reading a long passage it might be better to break it up into smaller sections. It’s better to read a couple of paragraphs and to think about what you have just read rather than to read three pages without retaining any of it. So take baby steps and start small.

As your brain gets used to it, you will eventually be able to keep up with larger texts without needing to pause.


In conclusion, even though technology in the 21st century is developing at an astronomical pace, reading is not going anywhere. We still need to master that essential skill, and hopefully, the techniques listed above will help you achieve this goal.


You might be interested in these articles too:
7 tips on writing the best PSLE english composition
How to score for the comprehension cloze of PSLE English
Situational writing for PSLE English: A step by step guide

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.