Text Comprehension Exercises You Can Practice at Home | Iris Reading
Text Comprehension Exercises You Can Practice at Home

Text Comprehension Exercises You Can Practice at Home

Text Comprehension Exercises You Can Practice at Home

Some of the things you can practice at home to help you understand what you read are skimming, making connections, visualizing, summarizing, making inferences, and discussing. 

Reading is a waste of time and effort if there is no comprehension.

However, even though text comprehension is essential to readers at all levels, it is something that some readers still struggle with.

In this article, we’ll show you simple text comprehension exercises that you can practice at home. We’ll show you how each strategy helps comprehension and how you can implement it.

Let’s start the discussion with what reading comprehension is and why it is important.

What is reading comprehension?

In simple terms, reading comprehension is the ability to read a text and understand it.

Reading comprehension starts with recognizing words, knowing their meaning and function in the text, following the organization of the text, and drawing conclusions about what is read. 

Thus, a number of skills are essential to reading comprehension, including:

Recognizing words. Word recognition is the act of identifying words and word parts. It involves using the knowledge of letters and sounds to attack words and pronounce them correctly. At this stage, one will read fluently without necessarily knowing the meaning of the words read.

Knowing the meaning of words. This starts from being able to define a word or use it in a sentence. The more unknown words are in a text, the more difficult it’ll be to comprehend it.

Understanding words from context. If one can quickly determine the meaning of the words from the context, comprehension is facilitated. This skill is vital to comprehension because, many times, the context can give words an associated meaning that is different from their basic meaning.

For example, in the sentence “Her boss is happy with her because she totally killed the presentation,” you need the skill of understanding words from context. The basic meaning of “kill” will throw you off from comprehending the sentence.

Following the organization of the text. Organization is the arrangement of ideas. Being able to follow this helps you understand antecedents and references in a text and identify the main thoughts.

Drawing inference. Being able to draw conclusions is the last stage of reading comprehension. You’ll easily see what the facts are, what caused an event, what the effects of an event are, etc. 

Why is it important to have good reading comprehension skills?

Comprehending what you read will help your personal and professional life. It will enable you to gain meaning from what you read, and this increases your knowledge, helps you remember more of what you read, boosts your confidence, and more.

Some of the benefits of having good reading comprehension skills include:

  • Helps you understand what you read. Comprehension skills help you extract meaning from texts and understand whatever the author is trying to convey. 
  • Helps you remember what is read. Comprehending what you read helps with the retention of information in your memory, making it possible to remember more of what you read.
  • Improves your knowledge. Comprehension is basically taking meaningless words and turning them into meaningful information to add to your store of knowledge. Your knowledge grows as you understand and retain more of what you read.
  • Improves your analytical and problem-solving skills. While reading involves recognizing and saying words, reading comprehension involves more. It implies thinking about the words (detecting patterns and making connections to identify idea flow) and deriving a meaning. This is basically analytical thinking and problem-solving. 
  • Boosts your confidence. As we’ve seen, good reading comprehension skills pack you with more abilities and skills (more knowledge, better memory, sharper analytical skills, etc.). Interestingly, confidence comes from belief in your abilities and skills. 
  • Makes reading more enjoyable. Reading is frustrating if you do not understand what the text says. However, you’ll enjoy reading if you’re comprehending what you read. 
  • Helps you succeed in life. Academic and professional success is intricately linked to reading and comprehension. At school, you’ll have to read and understand your books, and in your professional life, you’ll need to read and make sense of different materials. 

List of Text Comprehension Exercises

The following are simple text comprehension exercises that you can practice at home to improve your understanding of what you read.

  • Skimming
  • Making connections
  • Visualizing
  • Summarizing
  • Making Inference
  • Discussing it with someone

1. Skimming

Skimming is a reading technique that involves going through a text quickly to get a general idea of what it is about.

True, when skimming a text, the goal is just to have an overview and not fully comprehend it. However, skimming aids comprehension when followed by a thorough reading of the text.

Skimming works because it is a form of preview.

  • It builds familiarity with the text so that it is not entirely new when you are reading it.
  • It gives you an overview of the main points, so you’ll know what to expect as you read.
  • It helps you identify areas that are most essential or that’ll need more attention from you. 

So, the next time you want to read, do not dive straight into the book. Take time to quickly skim it for an overview before settling to read it.

When skimming, look at:

  • Introduction and conclusion
  • Chapter summaries
  • End of chapter questions
  • Titles, subtitles, and headings
  • Bold sentences
  • Charts and images
  • Beginnings and endings (start and last sentences of some paragraph, or start and last paragraphs of some sections). 

Speed reading is an important skill in this regard. If you have to quickly read beginnings and endings to have an idea of the text, it’ll be more beneficial if you can quickly comprehend those sections.

Speed reading is reading at super-speed and comprehending what is read. It’s not a common skill. Thankfully, there are great resources for learning how to read at super-human speed without losing comprehension. The Speed Reading Foundation Course and the Speed Reading Mastery Course have been hailed by thousands as some of the best resources in this regard.  

2. Making Connections

Comprehension is facilitated when you make connections with prior knowledge. That is, when reading, try to make sense of the material by seeing how it fits with what you already know about the subject.

According to Schema Theory, one accesses and uses knowledge of a subject or event to guide current understanding or action.

There are three ways to make connections to prior knowledge for better reading comprehension.

  • Text to text connection – thinking about how the text you are reading relates to anything you’ve read before.
  • Text to self connection – thinking about how what you are reading relates to something in your life.
  • Text to world connection – thinking of what the text you are reading reminds you of in the real world.

3. Visualizing 

Visualization simply means creating a mental picture of what you are reading. This technique works because it brings the reading to life. It transforms what you are reading from a series of words on paper to a movie in your head. 

Visualizing helps you connect to what you are reading. You’ll be able to “see” the characters and their actions as if you were part of the scene. Everything will unfold right before you, as it were, facilitating comprehension.

The benefits of visualization when reading extends beyond reading comprehension. This comprehension exercise also helps better consolidate what you read for better recall. 

In one of the best online courses for improving comprehension and memory, one key lesson teaches visualization (how to turn things into images to understand them better and remember them faster).

4. Summarizing

Summarizing is simply taking a large amount of text and reducing it to its main points. 

Summarizing helps comprehension because it determines the most important ideas in a text, ignoring irrelevant information and isolating its main points.

Afterward, you’ll have to integrate these main points in a meaningful way for a concise understanding of the text. To do this, number the idea statements logically and put them in order to make sense.

5. Making Inference

Making inference or inferring is simply drawing conclusions from the text. It involves processing the information in the text and using this to determine a deeper meaning that is not explicitly stated.

Making inferences helps comprehension because:

  • It makes you read between the lines. Making inferences requires using the information provided to reach conclusions that are not explicitly stated. So, you’ll need to read between the lines to determine what other meanings apply to what is said.   
  • It makes you connect what you are reading to previous knowledge. You’ll have to go beyond the text and activate background knowledge.
  • It helps you to activate higher thinking skills. Making an inference is processing information, combining ideas, evaluating information, and interpreting. It’s taking two or more details from the text, relating them to prior knowledge, and drawing a relevant conclusion.

Consider the statement: Mr. John cut short his vacation after his wife became seasick. One inference that you can make from that statement is that Mr. John and his wife were on a boat ride or around water.

This is not explicitly stated, but you’ve reached a sound conclusion by reading between the lines and drawing on prior knowledge of seasickness.

6. Discussing it

This is simply talking about what you learned from the text.

Discussing what you read helps comprehension because it forces you to make sense of the text. You’ll have to bring out the main ideas of the text and organize them so that you’ll communicate them in a meaningful way.

Interestingly, you do not have to talk to someone. For comprehension, you can discuss what you read with an imaginary person, as you would with a real person.

Wrapping Up

Reading comprehension is understanding what you read. It is the ultimate goal of reading. If one cannot gain meaning from what is read, then the time and effort spent reading is wasted.

Thankfully, there are different ways to improve reading comprehension. These include skimming, making connections, visualizing, summarizing, making inferences, and discussing. 

Practicing these strategies at home will improve your reading comprehension. However, taking a specialized comprehension course will do wonders for you. 

The Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course has helped thousands of people (including students and working professionals) to comprehend what they read, understand it better, and remember it longer. 

Register for the Advanced Comprehension and Memory Course today.

Is Speed Reading a Waste of Time?
Why Do I Forget Things So Easily?