This article seeks to reveal the Secrets to the Easy Steps on How to Read and Understand.
Why do we read? Of course, we read for many reasons. While reading is done with the aim of learning and self-improvement, the fact remains that sometimes we read for fun, other times, we read in preparation for an important examination. Whatever the case may be, the important thing is that we all read.
It’s one thing to read and another thing, to read and understand. Lots of people have this problem of reading without understanding. Some of the likely causes of not understanding a text while reading is, the ambiguity of the text, the text might be filled with unknown vocabularies, the topic might be an unfamiliar one, tiredness and distractions etc.
While we have the power to change some factors, there are some we do not have control over. Have you been having difficulties reading and understanding?
This article will teach you how to overcome the challenge and I’ll break it down into three stages.
STEPS ON HOW TO READ AND UNDERSTAND
STAGE 1: BEFORE YOU READ THAT TEXT
1. Know Your Purpose for Reading
Why are you reading that particular book? Are you reading it for fun, to get information, or to prepare for examinations? Knowing your goal for reading helps the reader to have a direction while reading; it also helps the reader to know the style of reading to apply.
Reading can be done by Skimming or scanning. Different books with different style. The way a novel will be read is quite different from the way a textbook will be read for an examination.
In other words, understanding your purpose or goal for picking up a book to read, is the first step towards reading and understanding.
2. Know Your Best Reading Time
This is what I call “Prime Time”. Every reader should know the particular time he is at his best to read. Depending on individuals, there are people that enjoy reading at midnight, early mornings and daytime.
For me, I tend to read and understand better in the early hours of the morning. Remember, what works for A may not work for B.
3. Get Rid of Distractions
On picking up a book to read, it is believed that you have a purpose for choosing to read that book. Hence, before flipping the book open, ensure that every form of distraction has been eliminated.
Get rid of whatever it is that can distract you. Turn off the TV, shut down the PC, put off chat notifications on your phone. I would have suggested keeping phones away but there is every possibility that it might be useful while reading, probably to look up words in the dictionary etc.
Also, the reading environment should be comfortable and free from noise. A number of times; we tend to read and re-read one page of a book countless times without picking a word from it. Sometimes, this is the effect of distractions. Avoid being distracted for better understanding while reading.
4. Skim Through the Book
This is a method that has worked and is still working magic for me, especially when I pick up books that appear uninteresting and somewhat difficult.
Skimming through a book is quite different from scanning. Some readers do not know when to skim and when to scan. Skimming is a method of reading a text quickly to find out the information’s contained in a book while scanning is simply reading a text quickly to find out specific information contained in a book.
For instance, when you’re aware that a book contains a particular information you need, this is when scanning is required but when you do not have an idea of what the book you want to read is all about, you skim.
However, it is important to skim through a book before a careful reading. That way, a reader gets familiar with the background of the book and it helps for easy understanding. Be it skimming or scanning, a reader is expected to have a good reading speed.
STAGE 2: WHILE READING THAT TEXT
5. Have a Pen and Jotter Handy
You don’t need to be a writer to have a pen and a notebook handy. While reading, it is important to have them handy. This is a trick for better understanding while reading. In the course of reading, there are salient points you may wish to mark out while there are others you may need to jot down.
While it is good to mark out, ensure it is done neatly with a pencil and it must not be on every page of the book so that it doesn’t put off the next reader. Some people understand more when they do this.
6. Read Out Loud
Not everyone enjoys doing this but it is a trick that is worth applying. Reading out helps some readers to be focused and engrossed with the reading. My advice pertaining to this is, do what works best for you.
7. Use A Dictionary When Necessary
Some texts may contain unfamiliar vocabularies and in order to understand the paragraph containing such words, you will need to look up the meaning. Constant checking of the dictionary may turn out to be a distraction; this is why it has to be used when and where necessary.
8. Take a Break
Reading is a brain drill and it is important to take breaks while reading. This helps the brain and mind to relax and get refreshed.
STEP 3: AFTER READING
9. Summarize the Text
This is the best way to know if the text was understood. Summarize the text in your own words, not forgetting to refer to the places that were marked out and jotted down. They usually help in having a good summary after reading.
As an undergraduate, this is one aspect of reading I enjoyed most. I make comprehensive summaries after reading. Back then in school, my very close course mates will always struggle to have access to my summary notes.
My summary note made life easy for those that disliked reading because I tried as much as possible to make it concise and very understandable without deviating from the key points contained in the text.
10. Memorize If Need Be
Committing to heart whatever has been read is an understanding technique of some people. This helps a reader to assimilate what has been read.
11. Take Note Of Confusing Areas For Group Discussion.
Are there areas you found confusing or difficult to understand? Take note of them for group discussion. Also, put down questions you probably don’t have answers to for others to share their thoughts.
Having a group discussion class has been proven to have a positive effect on some people that have the challenge of understanding after reading.
12. Do Self Examination
After reading any book especially for other reasons outside pleasure reading, it is always important to go through a self-drill. It is not weird to set questions for oneself after reading. Your ability to answer them correctly shows how well you understood the text.
Also, check if there are areas of reading you need to improve on. It can be in the areas of reading speed, poor note takings etc. This will help you to improve on your reading method.
13. Practice, Practice and Practice
Remember, before gold became what it is, it was made to pass through fire. It didn’t just become gold. There are people you may admire their ability to read and understand no matter how difficult the text may be. Some of these people had the same problem of reading without understanding at some point. Constant practice refined them into whatever they are.
Using my experience as a case study. No doubt I’m an avid reader, but most times I read because I needed to, not because I wanted to. As a student, even when you don’t feel like reading, you must read.
Being a student made me feel reading was one of my hobbies till I graduated. In my leisure time, I will pick up a Novel to read and at the end of the day, if I’m asked to summarize what I read, I will have nothing to say.
I can read a chapter for more than three times without even remembering a word. I was every shade of terrible when it came to reading novels until I started reading them constantly and practising most of these tips.
In conclusion, reading can be boring especially when we are made to read what doesn’t interest us but still, having in mind the importance of reading, one need to devise a means of enjoying reading, as well as reading to understand.
Discover what works for you in terms of reading and understanding. I enjoy reading Novels today because I discovered that skimming through the pages first, helps me to get a glimpse of what to expect. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you spend hours reading a book and at the end of the day, there’s nothing to show for it. You’re not cursed, neither is it a taboo. You’re simply not doing something right and getting the right information on how to read and understand, is a simple solution to this challenge.
The problem of reading without understanding will be a thing of the past if only you take note of these tips in this article and put them into action. I won’t say this article contains all there is to reading and understanding, but it will certainly go a long way to help in this effect.
Go and read and forget no more. Good luck!!