Read it and Understand: Six Strategies for Improved Reading Comprehension

By Huntington Learning Center

Reading comprehension strategies - a technical term for a common problem. It’s happened to every reader. You sit down with a book, magazine, or technical text and begin to read. Several pages in you discover you have no idea what you just read. What you just experienced was a breakdown of reading comprehension; you simply read the words without using any strategies to understand. This is a common struggle for many students. The ability to understand what is being read, and to independently apply specific reading strategies, provides students with deep and meaningful comprehension.

When students are unable to independently use comprehension strategies, reading achievement gaps grow and frustration occurs. It will become harder and harder for these students to understand what they are reading. The professionals at Huntington Learning Centers have developed an intervention method for students struggling with their reading comprehension. These tutoring sessions focus on improving specific reading strategies, including:

    • Making connections Readers deeply understand when they connect what they are reading to their lives, prior knowledge, past experiences, other texts, events, and issues. Each of these connections strengthens a reader’s comprehension and helps provide context for deep understanding. Encouraging a student to examine complex connections between the text and literary themes, world events, and interrelated issues will enhance comprehension even further.
    • Visualizing All readers should form pictures in their heads as they read. These “mind movies” allow the reader to visualize the story as it is happening and deepen text comprehension. Readers should also integrate their senses to clarify visualizations and ask themselves what they can hear, taste, smell, or feel. 
    • Asking questions Asking questions before, during, and after reading deepens comprehension and provides a better understanding of the author’s purpose. Readers should ask questions throughout the reading such as: 
      • “What is the author trying to tell me?”
      • “What will happen next?”
      • “Do I understand what I am reading?"
      • “What do I already know about this topic?”
      • “How is this text like others I’ve already read?”
    • Inferring Reading comprehension isn’t just text deep. Readers must dive into the text and read between the lines to understand the deeper meaning. Drawing meaning from conclusions and questions allows the reader to make inferences based on text clues and background knowledge. Making inferences is a sophisticated comprehension skill and often requires direct and targeted practice.
    • Determining Importance In both fiction and non-fiction texts readers must determine the most important parts. Understanding the most crucial sections of a story’s plot provides the reader with clues about the conflict or character traits. Understanding the most important ideas in informational texts supports the reader’s ability to comprehend complex topics. Readers should use clues such as titles, headings, pictures, and captions to determine importance. 
    • Synthesizing Finishing a piece of text or an entire book isn’t the end. It should be just the beginning! Good readers find ways to use what they’ve learned to create their own ideas. Synthesizing requires readers to create a single understanding by combing prior knowledge and new learning. Readers must also be able to integrate a variety of other reading skills and strategies independently. It is a complex skill and can be developed while reading a variety of texts and participating in engaging discussions.

The professionals at Huntington Learning Centers offer tutoring sessions to students who are struggling with independently utilizing reading comprehension strategies. These sessions are directed by ongoing assessment data and are specifically designed to meet the needs of the individual student. This personalization tailors the tutoring sessions to the student’s specific needs and is highly effective at improving the use of reading strategies and overall comprehension.


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