You might think that becoming a better reader is a big secret, but it’s totally not. Here are 12 things you can do right now to read better and improve what you remember and understand:
1. Look for connections: Ask yourself what you already know about the topic that you have to read. Draw a mind map or make a list of your answer.
2. Predict the content: Try and make an intelligent guess about what you have to read. Use anything you can to help make your prediction.
3. Identify the main ideas: If you can, get a pen and underline or highlight what you think are the main ideas. Then rank these for importance.
4. Work out the structure: Think about what kind of thing you are reading? Is it a letter? A persuasive argument? An editorial? Facts from a workbook? Cause and effect? Problem and solution?
5. Look at the first sentence: The first sentence in any paragraph is called the topic sentence. If it’s well written, it will tell you what the entire paragraph is about. Just read these.
6. Use typography: Typography just means things like bold, underline, and italics. Use these as clues and try and figure out what they are there for. Extend this to headings and subheadings as well.
7. Read between the lines: Try and work out what the writer is not saying. Form an opinion or make a guess.
9. Look at the pictures. This one is pretty obvious, but use the pictures to help you think of questions (see next).
8. Visualise: Make a picture in your mind about what you are reading. If you can, draw it.
10. Ask questions and look for answers: ask yourself questions about everything as you read, e.g. the meanings of words, the structure, what’s coming next, how it’s relevant to you.
11. Get help when you stop understanding: This means talking to someone else or doing some research. You might talk to a friend, a teacher, or pose a question on an online discussion forum.
12. Be aware of which of these strategies you are using when you’re using them: The best readers know they are doing these things when they are doing them.