What Are Comprehension Strategies? (Explained for Beginners)
Comprehension strategies refer to methods employed during reading to understand written material better. These techniques make it easier for a reader to make sense of what they are reading and help to improve their quality of thought, critical thinking, and creativity.
As a student, you must develop adequate comprehension skills to get good grades and excel in your studies.
Some course materials can be too technical to make sense of. And an inability to comprehend what you have just read can be quite frustrating, especially if you need it to pass your exams.
Employing adequate comprehension methods during your study will eliminate the challenges encountered while reading complex texts.
If you are experiencing some challenges with understanding what you have read, keep reading this article to learn about the best comprehension strategies that will help you fully grasp the meaning of any written content.
What is reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is the ability to understand, interpret and make meaning of a text.
This exercise consists of two interrelated components: Word reading and language comprehension.
Word reading is the ability to decode the texts on the page, while language comprehension is understanding the text’s meaning.
Active readers actively engage with the text to interpret its general idea, but passive readers just repeat the words on a page without trying to make sense of it.
Decoding the meaning of what you have read, answering questions about the content, and critically analyzing it is crucial in reading comprehension.
Before you start, establishing the purpose of reading is an essential aspect of this exercise. It will enable you to determine the right reading style to use.
A good reading comprehension skill will not only help improve your grade in school, but it will also enhance your critical thinking abilities and vocabulary and help you articulate the language better.
What are comprehension strategies?
Comprehension strategies are approaches used in gaining a deeper understanding of reading materials. These strategies help the reader to identify the general overview of the texts, pick out the essential points, and answer important questions about the text.
These techniques can be employed while reading for text comprehension in part and whole. If you read without making sense of what you have read, it is an exercise in futility.
To extract vital information from a text, get acquainted with comprehension strategies that will help you during the process.
7 best comprehension strategies for beginners
Self-questioning is a strategy that involves generating and asking yourself specific questions to help you engage better with the text. It can be utilized before, during, and after reading.
Asking yourself questions before you start reading will help establish the purpose of reading, improve your focus level, and enhance your understanding.
For instance, you can ask: “Why am I reading this? What do I hope to accomplish from this experience?” These questions will help you establish the purpose of reading and the goal you wish to achieve.
Also, generate a list of questions about the text that you can answer after reading. These questions can include: What is the main idea of this book? What message is the author trying to convey? What are the vital points stated in the text?
Self-monitoring is a comprehension strategy that helps readers measure their level of understanding of a text. This involves pausing during the reading process to check if you have a good grasp of the overall meaning of the passage.
You can start by asking yourself if you have learned any new information from the passage. Are there points you do not understand?
This approach involves rereading the words on a page to enable you to clarify your thoughts and your understanding of the message the content is trying to convey.
You can read the line aloud twice or thrice depending on the difficulty level. Hearing yourself say the words out loud will help you understand better.
Revisiting and rethinking a part of the text will improve your comprehension and memory.
If you are experiencing some challenges retaining information even after rereading, consider taking a simple online course to help improve and maximize your memory.
4. Drawing inferences
This is a strategy where a reader draws a conclusion about the information in the text based on what has been implied by the author and not what is explicitly stated.
While reading, you can make inferences about the meaning of a text by combining what you are reading with your previous knowledge on the topic and using these clues to infer and guess what you don’t already know.
Guessing the hidden meaning the author is trying to convey encourages critical and active reading.
Visualization is a comprehension method that requires creating mental images about the information in a text.
A visual representation of the concepts and ideas in the reading material will help you connect the ideas easily, develop a deeper understanding, and help retain the information.
6. Prioritize important information
Prioritizing the valuable information in a text is a comprehension strategy that will help improve your understanding of a material.
If the text is too long, too technical, or challenging, you do not need to start reading it immediately. Instead, skim through the text before you start reading to find the key ideas.
Skimming is a valuable reading technique that enables you to preview a text and get a general overview of the content.
This requires going through the introduction, headings, subheadings, bolded content, images, diagrams, graphs, and conclusion.
This strategy involves identifying the key ideas in a text and rewriting them in your own words.
The purpose of this strategy is to help a reader pinpoint the salient facts of the text, eliminate irrelevant information, and get immersed in the general idea the author is trying to convey.
SAAC and the 5 W’s, 1 H methods are two summarizing strategies that will help you narrow down the most crucial facts in a text.
The SAAC method stands for “State, Assign, Action, Complete.” Each word represents a specific component that can be employed during the summarization process.
- State: This element means stating the name or title of what you are reading.
- Assign: This refers to the name of the author.
- Action: This component means you should explain or describe what the author is saying.
- Complete: This is about including and completing the summary with keywords and important information about the text.
You can also use the 5 W’s and one H method, especially when reading a story or a novel. This requires guiding the summary process with six questions represented by 5 W’s and 1 H: Who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- Who: This involves asking who the story is about. It means identifying the main character in the story and their defining qualities.
- What: This element asks the question: what did they do? The main character of a story guides the plot. Thus, stating their actions is a good summary component that will help you identify the key ideas.
- When: When did the action take place? This will require you to pinpoint the part of the story the action took place.
- Where: Where did the story happen? This will require you to state the story’s temporal, environmental, and individual setting.
The temporal setting is the era in which a story takes place and the political and cultural struggle inherent in that period.
Knowing the temporal setting of the story will help you determine what motivates the character in the story, the kind of world they live in, and the reason for the conflict they are facing.
Environmental setting refers to the story’s geographical location and cultural and social setting.
The individual setting is the specific location where the action in the story is taking place.
- Why: Why did they do it? This question requires writing down what drives the character’s actions.
- How: “How did the main character do what they did?” This final question will help you summarize how the character performed the action.
Your summary can also include the initial questions you generated before reading the text, such as the themes, subject matter, what you like about the book, and the author’s motive.
Comprehension strategies are valuable methods used in understanding the meaning of a text.
Strategies such as self-questioning, self-monitoring, rereading, drawing inferences, visualization, prioritizing important information, and summarization will help you understand a text.
If you want to excel in your studies, use these strategies while reading and take advantage of this short course on advancing comprehension and memory.