What Causes Reading Comprehension Problems? (Important Facts) | Iris Reading
What Causes Reading Comprehension Problems

What Causes Reading Comprehension Problems? (Important Facts)

What Causes Reading Comprehension Problems

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the text. Comprehension problems result from medical reasons such as dyslexia and ADHD. Poor grasp also happens when you are anxious or when the text you are reading is complex and unfamiliar. 

Other reasons are difficulties recognizing and decoding words, limited vocabulary, and low interest or motivation.

Reading comprehension is not a unitary concept. Phonic awareness, vocabulary comprehension, and reading aloud sight words are part of reading comprehension. 

The overall concept is text comprehension, where you get the author’s main idea. In this case, you interact with text, connect with previous knowledge, and draw conclusions. 

Summarizing text and getting a more profound meaning helps students write elaborate essays and communicate effectively. Professionals need to understand text, analyze written communication, and give feedback.

These skills also help you understand current events in news, reports, and social media. You can give a critical view of events and an informed opinion. You’re also motivated to read and enjoy reading.

This post will tell you how to spot reading comprehension difficulties. You’ll also learn the factors affecting reading comprehension and how to improve reading comprehension.

Signs of reading comprehension difficulties 

Comprehension difficulties show when you only get parts of what you are reading. Students and professionals will exhibit the following when they have reading comprehension difficulties:

Difficulty reading out loud

When given age-appropriate texts, students with poor oral language skills fail to read texts fluently. Their reading is chopped with many sudden stops. Reading and retaining sight words like ‘eye’ in memory is hard for them. 

The inability to decode words

If you have reading comprehension difficulties, you’ll find combining phonic sounds to form a word challenging. Understanding words in their context is slow and laborious. 

Poor writing skills

Any form of long text is rife with spelling mistakes and other grammatical errors. You might find that you avoid writing and struggle to reach the word count in school essays. 

You may also get worked up when writing assignments are issued or feel frustrated when writing.

Limited vocabulary

Limited vocabulary affects reading comprehension. When unfamiliar with a word, you’ll stop trying to get its meaning. If you come across too many new words, the text doesn’t flow, and you lose grip of the main ideas. Similarly, you’ll struggle to learn and remember new words. 

Limited expression skills

We use words to communicate how we feel. Poor comprehension skills automatically influence communication skills.

Lack of interest or giving up quickly

People with low comprehension skills find it hard to read. The frustration makes them quickly lose interest in reading a book or any writing since they do not enjoy reading. 

Therefore, they will show no interest in reading or writing activities.

Word confusion-meaning and pronunciation

Word confusion is a common sign among people with poor reading comprehension skills. They will read “theirs” as “there is” or “accept” as “except.”

Inability to recall what you read, or link text to old knowledge

Failure to remember what you just read or make connections to previous knowledge are the most outstanding poor comprehension signs.

You should be worried if you cannot answer simple comprehension questions about what you just read out loud. If you cannot answer questions on a character, their role, feelings, and opinions in a text, consider Iris Reading Maximizing Memory to help you remember more.

You lack text visualization skills when you cannot connect what you just read with real-life examples. You might list what happened in the text but fail to state how that applies in life.

You’re also unable to semantically process an unfamiliar word, picking out cues from the context to get the more profound meaning.

Lack of concentration during reading

Concentration is being able to focus on a text for an extended amount of time without being distracted. Poor concentration resonates with poor reading comprehension. Since you are so distracted, you fail to pick the main ideas from the text. 

Failure to summarize the entire text 

A good reader should analyze the text structure, summarize the main concepts, and relay the author’s intention. Leaving out significant details or glossing over them is also a sign that you have reading comprehension problems.

Here are the factors affecting reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is affected by a series of factors, including anxiety when reading, low reading motivation, undeveloped word decoding skills, and medical problems.

The complexity of the text

How complex a piece of writing depends on a reader’s reading exposure. Strong command of the English language means you get writers’ nuances and word usage.

For people with good command of English, the reading pace is above average because they have a wide vocabulary range, which allows them to read fluently and fast, picking out significant concepts.

Professionals can read technical texts faster than non-specialists. Students who are used to reading lots of text will also comprehend better than those who aren’t avid readers.

Environmental  factors

Distractions like a phone ringing and noise will make you lose concentration when reading a passage. 

The same will happen when you are anxious about exams or a life event. High expectations from teachers and parents make some students too anxious and confused. They will make silly mistakes in an exam.

Students in unsafe locations ridden with cattle rustling also have difficulty understanding what they are reading because they are uneasy.

Additionally, when your reading station is disorganized, your mind is also a mess. Recalling everything you just read is unlikely.

Interest and motivation

Boredom and monotony are likely to make you feel disengaged from the text you are reading. 

When a book is laborious and boring, you do not derive pleasure from reading it, and as such, you pay less attention to the text.

Decoding or word recognition speed

Another factor influencing reading comprehension is how quickly you can decode and recognize words in a passage.

If you have trouble decoding and recognizing words, you might have realized you are a slow reader who finds it hard to understand passages.  

Limited vocabulary

Reading comprehension is also affected by vocabulary because readers use decoding skills to figure out how to pronounce unfamiliar words and what they mean. 

People with extensive vocabulary can figure out what they’re reading faster than those who have to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words based on their context.

Medical issues 

  • ADHD. It is short for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. People who have ADHD have a problem recalling what they just read. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it hard to focus for long.
  • Dyslexia. It is a learning disorder where a person cannot pick out speech sounds and connect them to letters. A person with dyslexia finds it hard to read even simple passages.

How to improve reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is an essential skill for both students and professionals. Improved understanding of text makes reading enjoyable. It is important to use reading comprehension strategies to help you improve retention and comprehension. 

Here are some strategies to boost comprehension while reading:

Improve vocabulary

The more you read, the more words you learn, and it will become easier for you to guess the meaning of words. Improve your vocabulary by writing new words as you read, checking them up, and using them in your writing or speech.

Quiz yourself on the text/ class discussions

Asking yourself questions about the text helps you see how much you can remember. More importantly, it broadens your understanding of the passage as you think about themes, recurrent ideas, characters, and lessons from the text.

A group discussion or a book club is ideal for quizzes.

Use  context hints to get the meaning of unfamiliar words

When you encounter unfamiliar words, try rereading the sentence and decipher its meaning depending on the content. Stopping to look up words in the dictionary often kills the reading flow.

Write down the main idea in your own words

Summarize the text, note the essential details, and connect significant themes in your own words. You could stop to summarize after each block of text if you feel you may forget some fine points.

 Remember to leave out the insignificant details. 

Break up text into reading milestones

Have reading targets to finish a book or text. Say two chapters in a night or 20 pages. Pacing yourself is suitable for goal-oriented reading, especially when reading technical text.

Get a reading partner

Reading aloud to each other with your partner helps with fluency and decoding. To start, pick a book, and read it. After finishing the book, come up with questions for your reading partner. 

The two of you should then read out loud to each other. After finishing the book, ask questions about the text (the questions you wrote after the first silent read).

Connect to another book, text, experience, and facts worldwide

Bridge old knowledge with new knowledge. Connecting with new knowledge is stimulating and keeps you engaged. It helps understand the author’s intentions better. 

Analyze the structure and core idea of the text

Text analysis is only possible if you have understood the text. Check if the reading has a cause and effect storyline, problem solutions structure, etc. Text structure analysis enhances your reading comprehension, giving deeper meaning to the text. 

Hopefully, you will improve your reading comprehension in school from these tips.


The inability to connect ideas and recall text are major signs of poor reading comprehension. Others are poor concentration, slow word recognition, difficulty reading out words, glossing over details, and more.

The factors influencing reading comprehension are ADHD, dyslexia, external factors like safety, interest in reading, speed in word recognition, limited vocabulary, and text complexity. 

Improve your reading comprehension by improving your vocabulary. Also, learn to visualize text and read aloud with a reading partner. 

Once you have grasped reading comprehension, Iris Reading Speed Reading Foundation Course will have you reading at the speed of thought.

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