Strategies to Improve Technical Reading Comprehension

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Reading technical books and articles can be difficult. Students unfamiliar with technical concepts frequently struggle when reading technical materials. As a result, students often get distracted or bored. Utilize these strategies to improve technical reading comprehension:

  • Repetition
    Complete an initial reading. Begin working on another project once you’re done. Complete a second reading the next day, take notes, and periodically review them.
  • Meet with the Professor
    Discuss confusing concepts with professors during their office hours. If it’s not possible to meet with the professor, meet with a tutor or graduate student.
  • Additional Resources
    Read additional articles or books to supplement current understanding, which includes laboratory manuals, study guides, survey books, and magazine or journal articles.
  • Summarize Before Moving Ahead
    Briefly summarize main concepts after finishing a chapter. Don’t move ahead to subsequent paragraphs before understanding the recently read one. Do the same after finishing each chapter or section. Create a mental summary after reading a chapter to compare with chapter summaries.
  • Key Words
    Identify key words while reading. Be sure you understand bolded or italicized text.
  • Organize Study Groups
    Study with fellow classmates. Discuss insights learned while reading, and teach concepts you understand to students still trying to grasp them. Make note of concepts all members of the group need to understand better.
  • Practice Active Reading
    Read aloud, take notes, and analyze charts and diagrams while reading.
  • Learn Unfamiliar Words
    Use a dictionary to learn unfamiliar words. To save time, keep a list of new words and look them up after you’re done reading. However, new words are best understood within the context of a paragraph. Most textbooks contain glossaries.
  • Answer Chapter Review Questions
    Enhance comprehension by answering questions in chapter review sections, workbooks, and study guides. Develop your own questions with chapter headings if none are available.

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