7 techniques to drastically improve reading comprehension and speed

techniques to drastically improve reading comprehension and speed

“So many books, so less time”.

A reading enthusiast understands the true meaning behind this quote given by Frank Zappa. A student who seeks true knowledge without thinking about grades will also associate himself with this quote.

However, voracious readers do develop a kind of obsession about reading such that in their sleep too, they get visions of printed book texts.

There are different views on this obsession, few say that it is good to have, while few do not agree with it but there are some who are on both sides, who believe that the reading obsession is the face of a true book reader but nevertheless, it leads to an anxiety of finishing books quickly which abates the intensity of the reading pleasure.

I truly agree with those who are on both sides, it makes sense that finishing books quickly will let you jump to another one which is really going to increase your knowledge and makes you updated.

Because the world is changing hence, it is really necessary to grab as much as you can in a single year by reading as many books as possible but at the same time enjoying the content you’re reading and without developing any pressure.

It all brings us to improve our reading speed; it is strongly correlated with reading comprehension as high reading speed won’t be of any use if the comprehension is missing and thus, here are some important tips to improve your reading speed as well as reading comprehension

1. Vocabulary is the key

Doesn’t matter whichever language you are reading in, you got to be careful with the vocabulary. Vocabulary is not built overnight, but you got to give it a shot in order to improve reading comprehension which will play a vital role in increasing your reading speed.

But don’t be aggressive on improving vocabulary. Maintain a list of the words you encounter which are unknown to you, pick up two of them in a single day and write a simple sentence on each of them. That’s like learning 60 words in one month and 720 words in a year. Improved vocabulary will work like a magic in comprehending the text.

2. Divide and Rule

Rome was not built in a day and so will not be your reading speed. It is a matter of absorbing the content without which there won’t be much use of reading book or newspaper.

The comprehension will require several muscles of your mind to work and thus, we must bring them to work but at a slow and steady pace. It is necessary to look at one sentence in parts.

You must define your attention span and see how many words you can actually grasp in one go.

Like consider these excerpts from a newspaper article –

‘The government had made a case of expansion and more active participation in the board of finance and the committee of the central board(CCB), the two important committees where there is no government interference.’

Try to read this sentence in one shot, you’ll probably won’t understand it. But now read these points –

1. The government had made a case of expansion and more active participation

2. in the board of finance and the committee of the central board(CCB),

3. the two important committees where there is no government interference

One sentence has been broken in 3 and now I am sure you have totally understood what the sentence is.

This is the most important and effective method to improve reading comprehension breaking the sentence in smaller absorbable parts and reading one in one attention span.

3. Do not let go of small single sentence

You will often encounter in novels that the sentences are generally in dialogues which stand to be one liners.

You easily get hold of these sentences therefore, the tip is not to break each and every sentence into smaller sentences and read, whereas, if the sentence falls within your attention span then grab the opportunity and read it in one shot.

You will realize this when you’re going to read your book after reading this article.

4. Summarize

This part of reading is a little tricky but if you can master it, your mind will be able to absorb the text faster and better. So, summarization is about having an idea of what you have already read from the text. Consider this tough text –

‘The government on Wednesday imposed basic customs duty on lithium ion cell and printed circuit board assembly used in cellphone battery packs in line with its policy to boost local manufacturing’

Now, the above sentence is a tough one hence I suggest you use the divide and rule approach to read and comprehend it but now there is a need to develop an idea inside your head about what’s going on here.

The idea can be like ‘Govt boosting local manufacturing by imposing customs duty’ or ‘duty on parts used in mobile battery to increase local manufacturing’. The point is to grasp the essence which will be beneficial for the next step which is linkage.

5. Linkage

When you have pictured an idea of the text you have already read, it’s the time for linkage which is nothing but the link to the next sentence.

So, when you read the next sentence, quickly establish the link between the idea of the text before and the line which you read. This will have a snowballing effect and now the summarization will take into account the current sentence you’ve read.

Consider the next sentence of the above excerpts ‘The lithium ion cell and PCB assembly will face 5% and 10% customs duty.’

So, when you read this sentence by linking the idea already formed, the text will make more sense to you and finally a new summary will be formed in your mind such as ‘Govt imposed customs duty on lithium ***cell and some PCB thing of 5% and 10% to boost local manufacturing’.

Comprehension is faster and enjoyable, right?

6. Take a pause

In a big article or a novel, there is a high possibility of getting lost in the middle because whether you want it or not, the connection breaks.

It is but natural and if you don’t get lost in the middle of the article then either you’re a reading prodigy or simply not comprehending the article.

Therefore, there is nothing wrong in taking a pause for 3-5 seconds and let the content be absorbed by your mind.

To me, it often happens while reading novels when some character hasn’t appeared for a while and suddenly it appears and I get confused. But then I close my eyes, think where the character last appeared, let the mind absorb the content and then read on.

This practice actually betters your reading comprehension without impacting your reading speed.

7. Patience & Practice

When I started reading English newspaper back in the time when I was 11, words and lines made no sense to me. I struggled a lot and couldn’t read a simple line properly because on a vocabulary scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) I rated 1.

I would feel terrible and disappointed. Then one day I read a jargon said by a great personality which said ‘patience is the key to success’. I had no other option but to keep patience.

So I started learning vocabulary in the same way mentioned here, in addition to following the above steps and the magic happened. In the next 6 months, a normal article which would take me 1 hour to read was getting finished within 3-4 minutes. Not only this, but the comprehension improved magically too.

So, the last step is simply keeping patience in mind and keep practicing the above steps, after a horizon of 4-5 months you will definitely see a noticeable change.

(It will take 4-5 months because I am sure that you’re more intelligent than me)

When you’re reading a book or a novel, make sure to finish it without taking a long break. To be precise, let’s say that you finished 5 chapters in 5 days of a novel but then something came up and you left it for 2 months.

So, the next time when you start reading it, it will take some time for you to be on the track. You’ll notice that you’re comprehension and reading skills have come down a notch, which is why, consistency is so important.

In your daily schedule, you must dedicate half an hour to reading books.

Reading books 3.5 hours a week have an amazing advantage according to a research published about which you can read in the bx-zone’s post of Think Reading books is not your cup of tea? Your mind will change after reading this

So, any other technique which you can tell us to improve reading skills?

How have you improved your comprehension? Will you share with us?

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