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The Secret to Reading Comprehension

It’s no wonder that so much emphasis is placed on reading comprehension in school. Comprehending a passage is crucial to academic, professional and personal success.

For this reason, standardized tests place great weight on reading comprehension. In the SAT alone, the Passage-Based Reading questions account for almost 30% of the entire test, including Math! There are 48 Passage-Based Reading questions out of 171 total SAT questions.

So, how do you improve your reading comprehension?

Two words: read actively.

Reading actively means asking yourself questions while you are reading. The most important question to ask is, what’s the point? In other words, what is the primary purpose of this article/passage/book?

The more you ask yourself this question as you read the more you will force yourself to comprehend what you are reading. In doing so you should be able to determine if you are reading something informational or something persuasive or perhaps even expository.

It’s not complicated. You just need to apply a little diligence to your reading by asking (and answering) some key questions.

In addition to the question about the purpose, consider answering these questions:

>> What is the tone/attitude of the author? >> How does the author’s choice of style help the article/passage/book? >> What action, if any, does the author want the reader to take?

Another way to read actively is to underline key parts of a passage. I generally stay away from highlighters because a pen or pencil gives you much more freedom to underline, circle, write notes in the margin and more. For example, I usually draw a box around any new vocabulary words so I can look them up and write their definitions in the margin. This can be hard to do with a highlighter alone. The process takes a little extra time, but the more you do it the more words you learn and the more your comprehension will improve.

Parents, you too can help your kids read actively. Ask them the same questions as above or check their reading for good notes in the margins.

Reading comprehension is key to success on many levels. So start reading actively today!

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