Ever tried reading a chapter in your literature textbook only to feel like you're seeing the words but nothing is getting through to your brain. You're reading but not understanding what the chapter is trying to convey.

Improving your reading comprehension is key to scoring well in subjects like literature and general paper. Here are 3 tips that can help you read and retain knowledge better

1. Know the difference between 'learning reading' and 'pleasure reading' 

Did you know? There is a right way to read a book for pleasure, and a right way to read a book for learning. You can read a book for pleasure one time through and be just fine, after all, it was purely for enjoyment.

But if you are reading your textbook or lecture notes, you should never read it just one time! In order to learn intentionally, you should approach the text more than one time and question what you read. That is, if you want a good grade!

Another way is to try the SQ3R system when reading an academic text - it means Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. This may sound like an intricate and time-consuming process, but in the long run after practising it regularly, it will make your text reading a lot faster. Even better, you will retain more of what you read and find that you can review rather than relearn notes when preparing for exams.

2. Read with tools.

Good readers are active readers. Each time you read to learn something, you should use tools that can assist you in reading instead of just using your knees to prop up the textbook. 

Some good tools are pencils to make notes in the margins of your text. If you don't wish to do any damage to your textbook, sticky notes are also good tools to jot down thoughts to stick to the text while reading.

Surprisingly, a highlighter can be a bad tool as it gives you the false impression that you have accomplished something significant by highlighting a passage. But if a passage impresses you enough to highlight it, you must indicate why it impresses you. Otherwise, you'll end up with brightly coloured sentences that you have to try and remember why they were important in the first place.

3. Make connections.

In most literature exams, you will be asked to read a passage and predict what might happen next to show your understanding of the passage. The purpose for this is to ensure that you’re able to infer information from the clues in the text.

Here’s an example:
Susie gripped the handle of the heavy glass pitcher and lifted it from the refrigerator. She didn’t understand why her mother thought she was too young to pour her own juice. As she backed away carefully, the rubber seal of the refrigerator door caught the edge of the glass pitcher, which caused the slippery handle to slip from her hand. As she watch the pitcher crash into a thousand pieces, she saw the figure of her mother appear in the kitchen doorway.

So, what do you think will happen next? We could guess that Susie’s mother reacts angrily, or we might guess that the mother bursts into laughter. Either answer will be accepted by the examiner, since we have so little information to go on. But if you knew that the passage is from a horror book, this fact might impact your answer. Similarly, if the book's genre is comedy, you will have a very different answer.

It is important to make connection about the type of text you're reading, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, whether previous chapters can help you comprehend the current chapter's action. Piecing together pieces and seeing the larger picture can work wonders in improving your reading comprehension.