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How to improve reading comprehension? Watch

    • Thread Starter

    I may read a book, but I may not necessarily understand the plot, remember some of the characters, what actually happened (!!).

    So guys and girls, how can I improve reading comprehension so I can get the best out of everything I read? Thanks.

    Make notes after each chapter or sitting about what you've just read.
    It may sound tedious, but I find when reading something particularly long or complicated, it does really help you understand what's going on. As long as they make sense to you, you can then look back over your notes to refresh your memory while still reading or having long finished the book.

    What I do if I sense I am really loosing the plot when I don't want to is jot down (very!) brief notes every chapter of whenever I feel I need to roughly outlining what has happened/ who the characters are etc which I can then flick back through. That's what I did with Paradise Lost (just as I think we both started that at a similar time?). Also, sparknotes is great for getting you to grip with the plots and giving you a brief understanding of literary stuff (though obv more at my 15yr old level than undergrad stuff or whatever). That can all be a bit tedious though - if you feel like you are really losing the plot in a book maybe question whether you really need to read it at all. I normally ask myself: a) am I enjoying this?, b) is it improving my understanding/literary knowledge? c) is it something I *should* read - eg classic. If you are answering no to 2 of these or really just to the first one, you should probably give up!

    For academic reading, where I am unlikely to read the book again, I mark quotations throughout the book and write comprehensive notes; it helps in seminars when I pick out particular parts of the book very quickly rather than talk generally. But for texts I know I am going to write on or just enjoy, the best way to improve comprehension is to apply the above method to a second or third reading of the text. C.S. Lewis wrote that first readings are largely redundant in terms of finding out how good a book is, because you are reading merely to see what happens. But with a second or third reading you know what is going to happen so you know whether or not what happens is good.

    To use a film example: no matter how many times you watch The Sixth Sense (1999), the reversal at the end revealing Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) as a ghost is surprising even despite the fact you know it is coming, because the reversal (i.e. the writing technique) is so well developed and unexpected. The best way to find out if any type of 'culture' is good is to listen, read or watch it again.
    • Offline

      I agree with the other posts - rereading, and writing down your thoughts as you read, are the way to go.
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