What Are The Causes of Poor Reading Comprehension? (& How to Fix Them) | Iris Reading
What Are The Major Causes of Poor Reading Ability?

What Are The Causes of Poor Reading Comprehension? (& How to Fix Them)

What Are The Major Causes of Poor Reading Ability?

Some major causes of poor reading comprehension include ADHD, dyslexia, difficult text, limited vocabulary, working memory deficit, and more. You may also have trouble comprehending what you’re reading if you are disinterested or bored.

There are many ways to improve your reading comprehension and they do not require any drastic changes. 

If you’ve ever had trouble staying focused or comprehending, you will benefit from knowing the techniques listed here.

This post discusses the major causes of poor reading comprehension.

Read on to discover daily practices and online courses that will improve your reading comprehension skills.

Free Speed Reading Class – Click Here To Register

1. Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

People with dyslexia or ADHD have difficulty focusing on tasks, including reading. If you can’t focus, you won’t understand what you read. It’s more of an inability to stay still and focus long enough to complete a story.

Dyslexia and ADHD lower your attention span, which means you will likely lose focus when reading for long periods. Don’t force yourself to stay focused. Instead, break the text you’re reading down into smaller pieces.

It will make reading less overwhelming or frustrating. Practice this every time you read to improve your reading and comprehension skills. Make sure you preview the material before diving in.

How to fix it:

People with ADHD can improve their reading ability with a few tricks. Start by eliminating distractions when reading. Sign off social media, turn off the TV, and lower the music volume. Make your study environment a distraction-free zone to help keep you focused.

Always follow along with the text with an object (like your finger) to help guide your eyes when reading. It will help you prevent occasional stops to reread words or sentences.

2. Difficult text

When you’re reading material with too many unfamiliar words, you’ll focus on decoding the words instead of understanding. This slows down your reading speed and causes poor reading comprehension. Many people will give up trying to read when this happens.

How to fix it:

But you can learn to read faster without sacrificing comprehension. Firstly, you must familiarize yourself with the material. Don’t say the words in your head when reading. Subvocalization slows down your reading and hurts comprehension.

You can avoid saying the words you’re reading by using your finger to guide your eyes when reading. Also, you can listen to music to distract yourself or force yourself to read faster than normal. If you’re having trouble balancing speed reading and comprehension, you should take our speed reading mastery course.

Iris Reading offers speed reading and memory courses to teach you techniques to improve your reading ability. 

You can also use the AccelaReader application to train yourself to read faster. Using the speed reading tool, you can set the speed you want to read the words and the number of words (chunks) that should flash on your screen. Try it to see your current reading speed. The tool can also help minimize subvocalization.

3. Disinterest and boredom

When people are disinterested or bored with what they are reading, they tend to pay no attention to the text. It could be because the story does not relate to anything they know or care about. Sometimes, you may find the material you’re reading boring because it is too simple.

Fun and exciting stories keep people with poor reading abilities engaged. And you’re more likely to understand a story or material if it’s interesting.

How to fix it:

There are many ways to improve reading comprehension when dealing with boring materials. Look for supplementary materials (such as YouTube videos, blog posts, etc.) on the topic you’re reading. It will help you get through the boring stuff more quickly.

It also helps to inspect the material before reading. Take note of the structure and discover areas the author emphasized. This way, you will calibrate your brain to encode the information easily.

Don’t forget to take occasional breaks. Reading for long without taking a break is not good for you. A 10-minute break after reading for 50 minutes will go a long way to improve your mental agility.

4. Oral language deficit

People with oral language deficit will encounter challenges when reading. Oral reading fluency is one of the major factors that affect a person’s understanding of a written text.

How to fix it:

Don’t be shy to read aloud to yourself. This way, you will hear the words you’re reading and get a sense of how good your pronunciation is. Reading out loud also improves your ability to remember the information

Additionally, listening to audiobooks to hear how the narrator pronounces words can help improve your reading skills.

A reading partner can help improve your reading ability. After all, two heads are better than one. While reading aloud is beneficial, you can improve it by asking your friend to practice with you.

Take note of how your partner pronounces the words. Getting more familiar with how the words are supposed to sound will help you understand the text better.

5. Executive Function Disorder (EFD)

Executive functioning skills help you plan, organize, manage time, stay focused, and complete tasks. People with EFD may have trouble remembering details. When reading, such people may not understand the organization or timeline of the story.

Executive Function Disorder is associated with poor self-monitoring skills, so it won’t be easy to discover strategies for reading comprehension. But you can do it with a few tips.

How to fix it:

Firstly, you should make a reading schedule and look at it multiple times a day. When reading, scan the material first. Look out for headings, bullet points, lists, and other recurring patterns.

This way, you will know areas the author wants you to focus on when reading. Paying attention to the material structure will make processing the information easier.

6. Limited vocabulary

People with limited vocabulary may face challenges comprehending what they have read. If you don’t know the meaning of the words you’re reading, you’ll miss the meaning of the story. In this case, many will give up rather than decode the unknown words.

Memorizing new vocabulary can be tricky, but a few tricks can help you

How to fix it:

Try taking parts of a word you came across for the first time and associate them with visual cues. 

For example, you can break the word claustrophobia into “Claus” – Santa Clause, and “phobia,” which means “fear of.”

Claustrophobia means the fear of tight spaces. An image of Santa Claus stuck in a chimney can help you remember the meaning of the word.

7. Working memory deficit

Some people have trouble remembering what they’ve read long enough to discuss it immediately after reading. This is a common problem for people with ADHD. There are many ways to maximize your memory and, in turn, improve your reading ability.

How to fix it:

Research has shown that relaxation training, including meditation and breathing practices, can increase working memory. Yoga is an excellent way to get started.

Eating right will also help improve your brain function. Many people are moving toward a ketogenic diet. But you must not make any drastic changes to your diet to eat better.

You need to add or remove a few things from your diet. Drink coffee, eat anti-inflammatory foods like broccoli, fatty fish, berries, green tea, avocado, and more. Cut down on alcohol, whole grains, and other complex carbohydrates.

Exercise regularly and make sure you maintain a healthy body weight. Don’t forget to get enough sleep. 

You can also get an expert’s help to learn the techniques for improving your working memory. Many students and professionals have successfully maximized their memories by taking our video-based maximizing memory course. It’s only 90 minutes long and a sure way to boost your memorization skills.

8. Difficulty with logic and reasoning

People with poor logic and reasoning skills might find it harder to read. They will not be able to develop the connections between and within sentences. This will prevent them from understanding what the text is describing, leading to poor reading comprehension.

How to fix it:

You can try using workbooks that help with logic-building skills from www.mindware.com or try a different training that targets the entire brain. 

An example of a product like that is The Equipping Minds Workbook (also known as The Academic Success Workbook). You can get it at the following link: http://www.pyramidofpotential.com/products-for-parents

9. Poor visualization skills

If someone has poor visualization skills, they might not be able to build a visual scenario in their head as they read. This will deter them from contextually understanding what’s going on, especially if they are reading a story or a process.

How to fix it:

There are some great courses available online that can help you with your visualization skills. Through these courses, you will learn how to visualize better, and it will inevitably lead to an improved reading ability. 

10. Parents facing difficulties reading

If one or both of your parents had poor reading skills, chances are that you will too. That’s because reading has a major genetic component to it, so you could say that bad reading comprehension runs in families.

How to fix it:

First, you need to identify a child who is at risk of developing reading difficulties as soon as possible. And once you find one, you can deploy all of the tips mentioned in this article to see which one helps them the most. 

Other effective reading comprehension strategies

All the techniques mentioned above can help you alleviate some of the problems associated with poor reading skills. 

However, if you don’t have any of the conditions described earlier, the tips below can still help you with improving your reading comprehension:

  • Try to read aloud with your inner voice to engage with the reading more thoroughly.
  • Learn the means of new words and phrases every day. Learn how different colloquialisms are used in sentences, and try to practice using them in your conversations. 
  • Learn more about how the different punctuation marks are used to place emphasis on the tone of the sentence. This will help you in understanding the context of what’s written. 
  • Try to identify the context the words are used in and see if they are being used in a way that’s not the main meaning of the word.
  • Try to infer meaning, and extrapolate from what’s written using your own knowledge and experiences. This will help you in understanding what’s coming up in the sentences more easily because you will already see it coming. 
  • Annotate the text that you are reading; leave little notes for the future. This will help you when you are getting back to reading that text because you wouldn’t forget all the text you have understood so far.
  • As you are reading, ask yourself questions about the text and try answering them. This will allow you to read the text more thoroughly and with short-term easily-achievable objectives.


Improving your reading ability will only be possible if you figure out what is causing the problem. Once you do this, you will know the appropriate remediation strategies.

Some major causes of poor reading ability are difficult text, ADHD, dyslexia, limited vocabulary, working memory deficit, and more. People may also have trouble with comprehension due to boredom or disinterest in what they are reading.

Speed reading has proven to help deal with poor reading and comprehension skills. If you have trouble staying focused, eliminate all distractions during study time. 

You should also practice good habits like eating healthy and getting enough sleep, which are good for your memory.

Finally, you can take an online course to master the reading, comprehension, and memorization techniques.

Iris Reading teaches speed reading and memorization to many professionals and students worldwide.

How Can I Learn To Read Faster?
What Are The Reading Techniques?


  • Judith Nuala

    Thank you very much now I finally see why some students have difficulty in reading and comprehension.

  • Innocent Uche

    This is great,I need it sent to me.

  • BJones

    Great advice and will share this with my family and the families I work with this year.
    (Me and my coworkers look forward to working with your company again this semester. )

  • Productivity Champ

    Whoa this is really good stuff!

  • ThankGod Florence

    Thank you so much I will start working towards it

  • Nyenprotey Geimah

    I really love the whole advice, and I hope and believe that if this opportunity is given to me to partake in the online lectures I believe my feature is bright thanks so much.