But you’re not sure which specific skills to focus on.
And let’s be honest.
You’re disappointed by people who say things like “take breaks from reading more often.”
Or, “write summaries.”
Don’t get me wrong. Those can be effective strategies.
The problem is, I don’t always use them.
And I manage to read dozens of books each quarter.
I can show you how to make sure you understand and remember what you read.
So if you’d like some tips and strategies from a pro reader that go beyond the standard advice you’ve found elsewhere, let’s dig in and get some real reading done.
Why Reading Comprehension Is So Valuable
We all admire people who actually understand what they’re talking about. Even more so when they’re able to acknowledge and deal with their biases. (We all have them.)
You may have many reasons for pursuing the best way to improve reading comprehension. For example, you’re probably aware that expert-level reading skills help you:
- Develop and expand knowledge based on solid foundations
- Enjoy critical thinking skills
- Enhance your communication abilities
- Express ideas clearly
- Strengthen your vocabulary
- Reflect deeply
- Ask and answer philosophical questions
- Discover innovative solutions to problems
- Build resilience
- Get more value from your time
- Experience higher levels of intelligence
And there are dozens of other benefits that make seeking multiple strategies to improve reading comprehension valuable.
One subtle point that becomes obvious once you see it is perhaps the most important of all.
What Skills Do I Need To Become A Better Reader?
With the simple idea that reading more will lead to getting better at reading in mind, let’s look at intermediate and advanced reading skills.
I’m basing these on my many years as a university student, over a decade as a professor, and another decade as an online educator through this blog, my podcast and YouTube channel. I’ve also researched reading scientifically to help develop the reading skills section of this website.
As you go through the following list, there’s no particular order of importance. Each and every skill matters.
Reading Like A Spy Or Detective
Spies are famous for developing and cracking codes.
Improve Your Vocabulary
To get better at decoding, I suggest you start memorizing vocabulary in order to improve how fast you recognize words and their meanings.
This simple practice will automatically improve not just your decoding skills. But it takes care of the opposite skill as well, which is called encoding. Here are some encoding exercises you can use the next time you sit down to read.
Flow Like A River
In order to read better, it’s important to develop fluency. You can read out loud to develop your acoustic memory for that. Studies have shown that working with how words sound, particularly vowels, can help improve all aspects of your reading.
During my worst depression in university, in order to try and get my dopamine flow going, I used to listen to audiobooks along with the physical books. Back then, audiobooks were much harder to find, but it was worth the effort.
To give you an idea of what it was like, I sometimes rode my bike from library to library in Toronto. Sometimes even in winter when there was a transit strike.
Back then, audiobooks were usually on cassette and bulky to carry around in large plastic cases. Nonetheless, I don’t think I would have gotten through some of the more difficult texts I was responsible for if I hadn’t combined reading the physical books with the help of narrator to boost my reading focus.
Become A Masterful Comprehender
There are many ways to get better at comprehension. They include:
- Asking questions as you read
- Thinking ahead (kind of like predicting what the author will say)
- Monitoring your understanding
- Using this modified Feynman Technique
- Keeping flexible and patient when texts are tough
- Visualizing while reading
- Image streaming after reading to revisit key details
3 Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension & Get the Most Out of Your Reading
Now let’s move on to some specific strategies that will improve your reading while reading.
One: Strategies To Read Faster
A lot of people take notes in a linear fashion. Basically, they are copying one book into another.
Sometimes I take notes like that, but usually my note taking strategy is much different.
I much prefer:
These strategies are fantastic because they provide you with moveable notes. And they do not interrupt your flow while using them.
Two: Strategies To Read Longer
And don’t worry about falling asleep in bed. These tips will help you stay awake and read more.
Also, create personal semesters for yourself. I choose topics and commit to three months minimum with a reading list in order to continue the flow formerly created by the universities I attended or taught at.
Finally, use interleaving. It’s one of the best reading strategies for keeping engaged for longer periods of time without burning out.
Three: Strategies to Remember More From Your Reading
In addition to the note taking and mind mapping tactics I shared above, there are some sure fire ways to remember more of your reading.
I recommend getting familiar with mnemonics. Here are the key memory techniques to focus on:
Okay, sure, you have to put in some effort to learn how to use the techniques, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.
If you’d like some help, sign up for my free memory improvement course now:
It will help you rapidly understand memory techniques at a top-notch level.
Improving Reading Comprehension Is Easy
Now, I know I’ve offered a lot of suggestions today.
But I want to repeat the key point that reading more is the key to getting better at reading.
Over the years, I’ve had some people tell me that this suggestion is unsatisfactory.
They’ve heard the speed reading charlatans spew their subvocalization pseudoscience. Or they simply enjoy skimming and scanning and don’t want to change.
Skip the people who recommend anything that leads to a “quick overview.”
That’s not what masterful reading is about. Master the fundamentals. Read in clusters. Take moveable notes.
And above all, just keep reading.