Reading comprehension refers to your ability to read a text, process it, and understand its meaning.
By read a text, we mean the ability to recognize words quickly.
You need to understand what words mean, how they relate to each other, and do so quickly enough that you do not get distracted by individual words.
When you process a text, you use evidence from within the text and your own reasoning to form inferences or conclusions.
These conclusions may not be spelled out in the text itself.
Finally, to truly understand a text you need to connect the information you learn to what you already know about a subject.
You also need to apply the new information to your course assignments, discussions, and exams.
Having good reading comprehension is vital to being successful in college.
College classes expect you to read a lot of material – sometimes hundreds of pages per class – and this material is usually more difficult than regular reading.
Textbooks and scholarly journal articles will have more academic language, charts, and diagrams that you must interpret. These writers assume you already know something about the topic.
So if reading comprehension is so important but so difficult in college, how do you improve it?
First, try to decide how much difficulty you have with reading comprehension, if any, and what exactly you struggle with.
Then you might try some of these tips to improve your reading comprehension:
* When you pre-read, you jot down ideas you already have about the topics. This helps you understand how much background knowledge you have and if you have any strong opinions.
* If you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge to start reading, try doing some research first. You might read the back cover of the book or abstract of the article to get a basic idea of what it is about.
* When you start reading, “read smart” by looking first at the headings of chapters or paragraphs. This will help you understand what the whole text is saying.
* As you read, make a list of unfamiliar words to look up. Then write out their definitions to help you remember them.
* You can learn a lot by reflecting on the material. Ask yourself what questions you have now that you have read the text. Do you need more information about something? Do you disagree with the author’s argument?
* Finally, test yourself to see how well you read. Jot down the main point, the information you learned, and your thoughts on the topic.
REMEMBER, just because you flipped through the pages of a book DOES NOT mean you truly comprehended what you read. In college you will be tested on your comprehension, not the amount of time you spend reading, so make sure to use your time well.