How to Achieve a High Rate of Reading Comprehension


Unless you can overcome the causes of your rate of reading comprehension, you may not be able to perform excellently in comprehension and summary examinations.

1. How to overcome causes of poor rate of comprehension


Before you learn to improve on your comprehension skills, you should first learn how to overcome the causes of poor rate of comprehension. This can be done in the following ways:

The problem of limited intelligence

There is nothing much a student can do to enhance his/her naturally endowed intelligence quotient. But where a student is operating below his/her I.Q. either due to poor family background or socioeconomic, environmental, personality and physiological problems, much can be done for improvement.

The student should develop a positive attitude towards himself/herself and often seek the counsel of his/her teacher. The student should realize that economic and other environmental problems are not permanent.

He/she should not allow them to destroy his/her opportunity for a high rate of comprehension for success in examinations.

Physiological malfunction

To avoid the adverse influence of this on your reading comprehension you should endeavour to do the following: (i) involve in distributed learning: Avoid reading for too long at a go.

Develop a reading method that is convenient to you; (ii) have adequate rest particularly before and during the period of an examination; (iii) and for neurological and physiological defects, see a medical adviser.

Over emphasis on word recognition and word reading

Use words as a ladder to climb into the mind of the author of the passage which you are reading. This you can do by reading phrase by phrase and in thought units.

Insufficient background for reading a passage

You know that no soldier goes to war without being armed and no worker goes to work without tools. Likewise, you need (i) sufficient vocabulary or strong word power to read effectively, (ii) and you should endeavour to do extra-curricular reading activities to enhance your language background.

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Not every word you come across; use it as your word for everyday living.

Inflexible reading

Make a conscious effort to always vary your reading rate with the level of difficulty of the passage being read. Practise flexible reading.

Personality problems

The personality types that can adversely affect reading comprehension are the conflicted, unconcerned, indolent, prejudiced and the uninformed or illiterate.

Do not give yourself up to any of these personality types. You should aspire to be a diligent reader who is hard-working and has a sense of direction. You should also loathe a sophisticated personality.

Lack of appropriate comprehension skills

To overcome the problem of lack of appropriate comprehension skills, you should at any time you are reading a passage, first of all, determine the main thought or main idea of the passage. Then, examine the signal words:

  • that continues the author’s thought such as, and, also, in addition, moreover, furthermore;
  • (ii) that illustrate the author’s thoughts such as, for example, for instance, to illustrate, such as;
  • (iii) that reverse the author’s thought such as, but on the other hand, on the contrary, yet and despite;
  • (iv) that conclude the author’s thought such as, therefore, as a result. Finally, in conclusion, and consequently.

Lack of summary skills

After you have examined the signal words try to spot the nature of the organization of the passage. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the pattern or organization of the passage logical?
  • Is it chronological?
  • Is it sequential?
  • Is it contrastive – contrasting ideas to make a point?
  • Is it a question and answer plan?
  • Is it a hen and chicken presentation, does the main idea overshadow, the supporting facts?

Lack of comprehension skills: determine paragraph patterns

The knowledge of the signal words and the pattern of passage organization would enable you to determine paragraph patterns usually indicated by signal words. For example:

  • Course–effect paragraphs are introduced by signal words such as ‘as a result of, because, thus’;
  • Comparison – contrast paragraphs are introduced by signal words such as ‘in the same way, in like manner, however;
  • Whole–part paragraphs are introduced by signal words such as ‘also, another, in addition, several, as follows; and
  • Sequence paragraphs are introduced by signal words such as ‘first, then, finally, after, next, and late.
  • 2. How to improve your comprehension skills and achieve a high rate of comprehension

The first step you should take to improve your comprehension skills is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I read?
  • How good is my comprehension of silent reading?
  • Can I effectively distinguish between main ideas and relevant or irrelevant details?
  • Can I distinguish between facts and opinions or can I read critically and creatively?
  • When reading, am I always able to extra with speech and precision the thoughts behind the printed or written words?
  • Am I always able to use linguistic and context clues as aids to reading comprehension?
  • Am I always able to outline, summarise and generalize intelligently after reading a given selection?
  • Am I always able to understand the interrelationships of different units of expression namely, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and chapters in the selection I have read?
  • Do I always find it easy to retain and recall anything I have read?
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The comprehension skill strands you need to improve upon will depend on the answers you provide to the questions above. Here are some of the comprehension skill strands that you need. The term ‘comprehension’ is composed of at least nine segments.

  • To find the main ideas
  • To select pertinent details
  • To summarise and organize
  • To follow directions
  • To predict outcomes
  • To differentiate between facts and opinion
  • To follow the writer’s plan and intent
  • To read charts, tables, maps, and graphs
  • To grasp the sequence of events.

No one of the above comprehension strands is more important than the other. You must strive to improve on all of them. They are all important.

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