To do well in school and pass exams, it is essential that you understand what you read. An excellent tool to improve compressibility is the SQ3R system. This acronym in English represents the following five steps: inspect (“Survey”), ask (“Question”), read (“Read”), recite (“Recite”) and review (“Review”). To keep your mind active while reading, you can also make annotations. In addition, there are several helpful reading strategies, such as defining unfamiliar words while reading, limiting the amount of reading time, and reading difficult passages aloud. With practice and patience, you can develop techniques to improve your reading comprehension.
Method 1 of 4: Use the SQ3R System
Step 1. Inspect the text before reading it
Having a general idea will allow you to better understand the text. This step is very simple. Just turn the pages quickly and pay attention to the chapter titles and subtitles. When you are done, you will have a better idea of the general concepts of each chapter.
- If the chapter includes an author's summary, you can read that too.
- You should also pay attention to tables, graphs, and other images as you inspect the text.
Step 2. Ask questions
These questions will help guide your reading to stay focused, as well as improve your understanding of the text. Consider the topics you found during your inspection and use them to ask questions related to your reading.
- To create questions based on the captions you found during the inspection, consider the possible answers to: "how?", "What", "when?", "Where?" and because?". For example, if you come across a subtitle called "Reading Comprehension Strategies," you might ask yourself, "What are effective strategies to improve reading comprehension?"
- Some teachers include comprehension questions to answer after reading the text. If you've been provided a list of questions, use them to stay focused as you read.
Step 3. Read the text
Then you will have to read the text and use the questions to stay focused. If you use your own questions, underline the important information as you read and annotate accordingly. This way, you only have to read the text once.
Make sure you read at your own pace. Take a break when you need to make annotations
Step 4. Recite what you have read
After finishing a section, it is important to stop reading for a moment so that you can write what you have understood in your own words. If you can't do this immediately after reading a section, you may need to reread it later.
Try explaining the text to a friend or write a short summary of the information. Remember that it is important that you can express the information in your own words. Resist the temptation to simply repeat what you have read
Step 5. Review the material
To have the concepts very clear, it will be necessary that you can reread them from time to time. While you don't need to reread the entire text, you may need to reread the parts you have underlined and the notes you have taken.
Before the test, try to reread the text once or twice a week. This will help you retain the concepts, without having to reread all the information
Method 2 of 4: Understand a Short Passage
Step 1. Read the first and last sentences of the passage
To understand a short one or two paragraph passage, start by reading the first and last sentences. You may have been taught at school that these sentences are called a "topic sentence" and a "concluding sentence" and they will give you an idea of the central theme of the passage. Therefore, it is important that you make sure you read them first to stay focused on this general idea as you read and to know which parts you should pay more attention to.
Step 2. Take a look at the passage to find the most important information
Identify and underline topics and explanations. Look for key phrases like "This means that …" or "The point here is …". You will notice that many of the main themes found in the topic sentence and in the closing sentence of the passage are the same ones you read first!
Look for examples to clarify the main topic. These are very easy to find and will allow you to understand a very broad or very complex main topic. To find them, search for phrases like "For example."
Step 3. Read the entire paragraph
Once you've identified the most important information, go back to the beginning of the text and read the entire paragraph. Keep the main ideas in mind to stay focused. Evaluate the organization of the passage and observe how the information flows. Pay attention to the less important points that may have been missed during the inspection. Reread the paragraph if you need to have a deeper understanding of the text.
Method 3 of 4: Annotate to Improve Read Compression
Step 1. Underline the most important words and phrases
Taking notes will allow you to keep your mind active as you read the text. Underlining and highlighting important words and phrases will allow you to retain the information. Also, it will be easier to find the most important passages later. Make sure you have a pen or marker handy while reading.
Underline or highlight topics that you find confusing, interesting, important, or things that raise questions so that you can ask them in class
Step 2. Write in the margins
This will allow you to draw connections between the concepts, as well as record your reactions to the information. Have a pen handy to write ideas and questions in the margins.
- Use these spaces to write what you consider necessary. For example, you can summarize your reactions by using words like "interesting" or "confusing."
- You can also use sticky notes for longer notes. This is a good idea if you want to write more or if you cannot write the text (because you have borrowed it from the library or have rented it).
Step 3. Reread your annotations
When you're done making annotations, be sure to reread them. As you do so, write down any questions related to your notes or the doubts you want to ask in class.
For example, if you've underlined a part that you don't understand well, try asking a question like, "How does writing down helps you retain more information?" For the simplest questions, you can find an answer on your own. For more complex questions, you can ask your teacher for help
Method 4 of 4: Use Other Reading Comprehension Strategies
Step 1. Make a connection between reading and something that is familiar to you
This will allow you to retain a greater amount of information. Try to create connections between existing knowledge and new concepts.
For example, if you have read a new concept in a biology book, try to relate it to a concept that you understand
Step 2. Look up the words you don't know in a dictionary
This is another strategy to improve reading compression. If you don't understand the meaning of a word, you may find the sentence confusing. Take a moment to figure out the meaning of the new words.
A good tool is to keep a vocabulary journal to write down the words you don't know
Step 3. Complete the reading in small fragments
To improve your compression capacity, read the text in small chunks and take breaks when necessary. For example, you can implement the Pomodoro Technique which consists of taking a break every 25 minutes of study. Set an alarm on the cell phone and read until it rings. Then take a five-minute break.
- Another option is to set a goal based on the number of pages you want to read. For example, you can read 10 pages and take a five-minute break after completing the goal.
- During breaks, get up, walk, and stretch your muscles for a few minutes. You can also enter your social networks, watch a short video or look for a curiosity.
Step 4. Try to read aloud
This strategy is very effective and is often used when teaching children literacy skills. Children are able to understand more complex information and stories when they listen to them than when they read them silently. In addition, reading aloud is a very useful technique when editing written information. Therefore, this technique will allow you to create connections, understand difficult texts and retain more information.