Reading—and reading comprehension—are an important part of learning. Aside from lectures, reading is the best way to introduce new ideas and information. It’s also crucial to making sure you understand the course material.
But reading can also be a hard skill to master. According to Literacy Partners, 93 million adults have basic or below-level literacy skills.
A healthcare education requires you to be able to read, comprehend and retain complex information. Here are some tips to become a better reader—and a better student as a result.
Be an active reader.
Did you know that there’s a difference between passive and active reading? If you skim through your textbook just to complete the required reading, chances are you’re being a passive reader. And unfortunately, you probably won’t absorb as much as you would if you actively engaged with the text.
Try asking yourself questions, rereading sections of your textbook out loud and explaining the main ideas in your own words. This will help you engage with the text, rather than just rushing through to get the reading done, and it can improve your reading comprehension.
Break down the introduction to understand the purpose of the text.
A lot of people just skip over introductions, but that’s a mistake. Introductions explain the thoughts, ideas and overall purpose of the text. Actively reading the introduction can give you a frame for how to interpret the reading.
Before you dive into the textbook, try breaking down the main thoughts in the introduction. What is this chapter or section trying to say? What’s the author’s overall thesis? By figuring these things out, you give yourself a frame of reference and a better understanding of the concepts inside.
Make a list of questions before you begin.
Before you start reading, assemble a list of questions that you think the text will answer. The best questions usually begin with who, what, when, where, why or how. To shape these questions, you can use the notes you gathered for the introduction. You can also use class notes and tips from your instructor.
Then, as you’re reading, keep these questions in mind and hunt for the answers. This will help you stay focused and read with purpose, which can help your reading comprehension.
Summarize each chapter in your own words.
Now that you know what to focus on, you can write summaries of each chapter based on your study questions. Writing the key parts of the chapter in your own words can help you absorb the ideas. These summaries will also give you reference materials when it’s time for further studying.
Explain the concepts to someone else.
Once you’ve finished your active reading, it’s time to try and teach the concepts to someone else! As you’re explaining what you learned to classmates or family members, you’ll probably run into gaps in your knowledge. This will give you a good measure for what you’ve absorbed—and what you still need to work on.
Hopefully these tips help you with your reading comprehension. Have you run into problems with understanding material before? How have you solved them?