What Is Comprehension Monitoring? (Explained for Beginners) | Iris Reading

What Is Comprehension Monitoring? (Explained for Beginners)

Monitoring comprehension is determining whether you understand the text you are reading. When you realize that you can’t articulate the passage’s main idea, then you can take steps to improve your comprehension before continuing to read.

Students and readers know how crucial reading comprehension and retention are. Comprehension monitoring is important because it enhances reading comprehension, nurturing enthusiastic readers.

Most successful students and readers monitor their comprehension intuitively. Some people who struggle with reading may not recognize a breakdown in their comprehension or may not know how to correct it when it occurs. 

These students or readers may say yes when asked if they read the material. Yet, although they decoded every word, they did not understand what they were reading. 

Competent readers may fail to self-monitor comprehension when the text is complex, especially when they don’t know how to.

If you are keen on improving your reading comprehension, keep reading. This post will discuss comprehension monitoring, why it is important, and comprehension monitoring strategies.

What is comprehension monitoring?

Comprehension monitoring is the cognitive act of checking whether the text you are reading makes sense. You stop to check what you understand and what you don’t understand. It is when a teacher checks if a learner understood what they read.

Good comprehension monitoring skills involve rereading text to try and decipher the meaning of words or phrases from the context. Readers go an extra step by asking an instructor, or a friend, for help. Sometimes they do a Google search to understand the text better.

When students pay close attention to the text they are reading, they connect prior knowledge and new knowledge and become independent readers who can solve the difficulties they encounter when reading.

Writing a comprehensive summary without looking at the text demonstrates good comprehension monitoring skills.

For instance, teachers and regular readers monitor comprehension in various ways. The strategies they use include rereading, asking questions, predicting, summarizing paragraphs or chapters, and more.

A simple comprehension monitoring process involves

  • Stopping between paragraphs and chapters to reflect on what you understood or didn’t understand
  • Rewriting paragraphs, chapters, or the story in your own words
  • Pointing out words, sentences, paragraphs, or pages you’re struggling to make sense of
  • Writing down what you find confusing
  • Reviewing the paragraphs, charts, pictures, and graphs before and relating them to the text you are struggling with
  • Skimming the text ahead to see if the next sections provide some insight.

Why is comprehension monitoring important?

Good comprehension monitoring is important for readers to ensure they understand what they are reading. It significantly improves reading comprehension and, eventually, students become enthusiastic readers.

It is important because it allows readers to adjust their reading if they do not understand something. For instance, they could adapt their reading rate to fit the difficulty of the text. They could also look up difficult words.

Comprehension monitoring can assist readers in determining whether they need to reread a section or seek extra information to understand the material better.

Comprehension monitoring is also beneficial because it enables teachers to identify students who are having difficulty understanding what they are reading. It can also assist teachers in determining which students are more likely to require assistance understanding the material.

Comprehension monitoring strategies

Monitoring your comprehension is one of the most important things you can do to improve your reading comprehension.

After reading a section, pause for some minutes to consider how well you comprehended it. If you discover that you did not understand it as well as you would have liked, consider one of the following comprehension monitoring strategies:


Asking oneself questions while you read is one approach to evaluating understanding. Self-questions can be literal questions about the material you’re reading, such as who, what, when, where, and why. 

These inquiries might help you understand the author’s message and focus on essential aspects. 

You can also ask yourself inferential questions, forcing you to draw conclusions based on your reading. You read between the lines and interpret a text in a way other than its literal meaning.

Reading the passage again

Rereading sections of literature that you have identified as significant or difficult is beneficial for deeper comprehension. Rereading is often the most effective method of improving comprehension. 

You can reread silently or loudly. Simply rereading a passage can help clarify thoughts and fill in information gaps.

Making predictions

Predicting can be done before reading or after reading. Speculating on possible outcomes can help one engage more deeply with the text and improve one’s ability to understand it.

When reading a novel, you can make predictions based on prior knowledge and textual clues. If you’re reading a mystery, you might guess who the killer is or what the motive is. You might guess how the story will end if you’re reading a romance.

Predicting can also be used to test your comprehension. If you are perplexed by what is happening in the story, you can predict what will happen next. If your prediction is correct, you know you comprehend what was going on, and if it is incorrect, you should go back and reread the section.

Summarize the text

After you’ve finished reading, spend a few minutes writing a concise description of what you’ve just read. 

This activity requires you to consider the passage’s key themes and how they fit together. Taking the time to produce a text summary improves recollection.

Paraphrasing a passage

Another technique to assess your comprehension is to paraphrase the material. This can be difficult, but it’s a terrific method to ensure that you truly grasp what you’ve read.

Previewing text before reading 

Previewing text before reading involves inspecting the title, images, and any headings or subheadings. Skimming through subheadings and topic sentences will give you a solid notion of what the text is about and will help you forecast what you will read.

Skimming chapters ahead to understand a section you are reading is also part of previewing. Often, previewing helps you get more insight or clarity to understand a confusing paragraph.

Talk about the text with someone else

Group conversations or peer reviews can help you uncover any areas of uncertainty and improve your understanding of others.

Note-taking in visuals and flow diagrams

Keeping track of significant facts as you read is another technique to monitor comprehension. 

Reassemble information into an equation, chart, image, concept map, or any other visual organizer. You can also use flowcharts, networking, mapping, and outlining to organize your thoughts on the passage as you read.

Retell/restating strategy

Retelling is one of the most effective comprehension monitoring strategies. Students who can retell a story demonstrate their understanding of the plot, characters, and events. Retelling can be done either orally or in writing, alone or with a partner.

When retelling a story, students should concentrate on the main events and key details. They should also try to figure out the problem and the solution, as well as the main characters and their motivations. 

There are numerous advantages to retelling a story. For starters, it allows students to hear and articulate their thoughts. That can assist them in identifying any gaps in their knowledge. 

Second, by organizing information differently, retelling a story helps to solidify understanding. 

Third, retelling a story allows students to practice summarizing, a vital reading comprehension strategy.

Depending on how well the student understands the story, the retelling is either sequentially or non-sequentially.

Wrapping up

Monitor your comprehension by pausing to evaluate what you’ve read, rereading, summarizing, paraphrasing, and self-questioning.

By practicing comprehension monitoring strategies, readers improve their reading comprehension and memory.

Check out Iris Reading Maximizing Memory Course if you want to retain more of what you read to expand your visual dictionary. It helps you practice these comprehension monitoring strategies plus other memory techniques.

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