How to Improve Reading Comprehension for Adults

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What Is Reading Comprehension?

There are many tips and tricks on how to improve reading comprehension for adults. First, we need to define this skill, so we know exactly what we are focusing on. Reading comprehension is the ability to process text, understand its meaning, and integrate it with what the reader already knows. You will require a variety of books to improve English to achieve this level of reading. It is a complex cognitive process that requires the following 4 skills in unison:

English Thinking


  • Reading fluentlyWhen reading fluently, a reader does not need to pause and think about every word on the page. Instead, they can read smoothly and automatically, allowing them to focus on the meaning of the text. This level of fluency is often reached after extensive practice with a particular type of material, such as children who learn to read through repeated exposure to picture books. However, it is also possible for adults to develop fluent reading skills by practising texts that are at or slightly below their current level. As they become more proficient, they will be able to read increasingly challenging materials at a greater reading speed. In addition to being faster and more enjoyable, fluent reading can also lead to better comprehension and retention of information.
  • Making inferencesMaking inferences is one of the most important skills in reading that we use every day. When we make an inference, we are using our prior knowledge and experience to conclude something. For example, if you see a person walking down the street with their head down and their shoulders hunched, you might infer that they are feeling sad. Inferences can be helpful in many situations, such as when we are trying to understand someone’s behaviour or figure out what they are thinking. However, it is important to remember that inferences are based on our perspectives and may not be accurate. If we want to truly understand someone, it is always best to ask them directly.
  • Understanding vocabularyVocabulary knowledge is critical for literacy skills and for producing clear, coherent writing. A developing reader must be able to recognize and understand the meanings of words to make sense of the text. Likewise, a writer must be able to select the words that best convey his or her meaning. Therefore, a strong vocabulary is essential for academic success. There are several ways to develop vocabulary knowledge. Reading widely exposes students to new words and concepts; hearing new words used in conversation helps to fix them in the mind, and looking up the definitions of unfamiliar words helps to build understanding. Explaining the meanings of words to others is also a valuable exercise, as it requires students to think carefully about the nuances of meaning. By taking advantage of these various strategies, students can develop a richer vocabulary and improve their communication skills.
  • The ability to answer questions about the text By being able to answer questions, adult learners can demonstrate their understanding of the text and identify important information. Furthermore, this skill allows readers to follow along with the author’s argument and better appreciate the overall message of the text. While some questions can be answered by simply skimming the text, others may require readers to carefully analyze the author’s words and make inferences about their meaning. Regardless of the difficulty level, answering questions about the text is a vital part of being a proficient reader.

Nobody is born with a natural ability to read quickly and comprehend complex material. We all have to work to develop these skills at some point in our lives. Everyone has a brain for comprehension and the same standard of literacy. Much of this learning can happen in childhood, however, improving comprehension in adults is a common pursuit with simple strategies. In this blog, we will show you our best reading practices for the ultimate goal of improving your comprehension level.

Why Reading Comprehension Is Important?

Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills that students need to master to be successful in school and life. After all, if you can’t understand what you’re reading, how can you hope to learn from it? The ability to read with understanding is critical for success in all subject areas, not just English or language arts. Good reading comprehension skills allow students to make sense of their active reading, figure out relationships between ideas, and remember important information. In short, strong reading comprehension skills are essential for academic success.

Adults should work to improve their reading comprehension for several reasons. First, extensive reading is how adults keep up with current events and new research in their field. Second, mastery of reading comprehension skills allows adults to more fully engage with the text they are reading, whether for work or pleasure. Finally, good reading comprehension skills can help adults improve their writing by ensuring that they understand what they are reading well enough to synthesize it into their own words.

Now we know it is essential for people to have the ability to comprehend our reading material, what do we prioritize? English reading is a complex activity, just like reading in any other language. There are a few key strategies that adults can use to improve their standard of literacy. These strategies will be able to help to perfect essential reading skills such as:

  • Reading speed
  • Comprehension among adults
  • Active reading skills
  • Cultural contexts
  • Reading fluency
  • Complex sentences
  • Speed reading

In the following list, we will give you our 8 strategies for improving reading comprehension for adults. This includes tests of literacy and comprehension resources for a deeper understanding. Keep reading for advanced reading comprehension strategies to improve your reading abilities.

Read and Speak English

How to Improve Reading Comprehension


There are many comprehension interventions that adults can do to improve their literacy level. Perhaps the most important thing is to select material that is at the right level. If a text is too difficult, it will be difficult to understand and remember what has been read. On the other hand, if a text is too easy, it will be boring and may not provide sufficient challenge to engage the reader.

In addition, adults should take the time to preview a text before reading it in its entirety. This can give them a basic understanding of the overall structure and content of the text, making it easier to follow when they do read it.

Finally, adults should make sure to actively engage with the text as they read, taking note of key points and asking themselves questions about the content. This comprehension task will help identify context clues and adult learner goals. By taking these steps, adults can set themselves up for success when trying to improve their reading comprehension.

Read for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to improve reading comprehension over time. When people read for pleasure, they are more likely to pay attention to the text and be engaged with the material. As a result, they are better able to understand and remember what they have read.

Reading for pleasure can help to build vocabulary and improve writing skills. Therefore, adults need to find time to read for pleasure regularly. There are many ways to make reading for pleasure more enjoyable, such as choosing books that interest you, reading with a friend or family member, joining a book club, investing in digital readers, or listening to audiobooks. By taking some time to read for pleasure each day, you can greatly improve your reading comprehension and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.


For some people, reading comes naturally and they can quickly understand and retain information. However, others may struggle and may need to rely on re-reading. This is an easy process that involves several different skills of active learning, including awareness and questioning. Re-reading can be a helpful strategy for improving reading comprehension, especially for adults.

When adults re-read the text, they can process the information more deeply and make connections that they may not have made the first time around. This helps to build understanding and improve recall. Additionally, re-reading allows adults to focus on difficult words or concepts and pick up on details that they may have missed the first time. As a result, re-reading can be a valuable tool for improving reading comprehension.


Many adults find themselves reading material that is either too difficult or uninteresting and as a result, their comprehension suffers. If you find yourself in this situation, one strategy you can try is to slow down your reading pace. When you read more slowly, you have time to process each word and sentence, and you are less likely to lose your place or become distracted.

Additionally pacing is one of the most essential reading exercises for memory. By taking the time to carefully read and comprehend the material, you are more likely to remember what you have read. So next time you find yourself struggling to understand what you are reading, try slowing down your pace. You may be surprised at how much difference it makes.


Chunking is a simple process that involves breaking down a text into smaller pieces, or chunks, and then reading each chunk separately. This strategy can be particularly helpful for adult readers who may have difficulty comprehending long, complex texts. By breaking the text down into smaller pieces, readers can more easily focus on each section and better understand the overall message of the text.

In addition, chunking can help to improve memory and recall by allowing readers to better process and store information. When using this strategy, it is important to start with larger chunks and gradually break them down into smaller pieces.

For example, when reading a paragraph, adults can first identify and read each sentence individually before moving on to smaller chunks such as words or groups of words. By taking the time to slowly and carefully chunk a text, adult readers can improve their critical literacy and better remember what they have read.


Asking questions is a simple process for improving reading comprehension. By asking themselves questions about the text, readers can ensure that they are actively engaged with the material and better able to understand and remember what they have read.

Questioning can help readers to identify gaps in their understanding and provide a focus for further research. When reading for pleasure, questioning can also be used as a way to generate discussion and further explore the themes of a book. Ultimately, by taking an active role in their reading, readers can greatly improve their comprehension and enjoyment of any text.


Someone’s ability to read accurately and fluently can affect how much information they take in during active reading. Additionally, prior knowledge about a topic can also make it easier to understand what is being read. However, the physical environment in which someone reads can also play a role in how well they comprehend the text. Perfecting your surroundings is one of the most effective comprehension strategies.

For instance, reading in a quiet place with good lighting will likely lead to better comprehension than if someone is trying to read in a dim or noisy setting. Additionally, reading in a comfortable position with plenty of support (e.g., a pillow) can also help improve comprehension by reducing fatigue and allowing readers to maintain focus.

In sum, although many individual differences can impact reading comprehension, paying attention to one’s environment is a simple way that everyone can help improve their understanding of the text.

Learning Apps

There are several ways to improve reading with comprehension strategies, and one effective method is to use Learning Apps. These apps can help adults to focus while they are reading, and they can also provide valuable information about the text.

For example, Learning Apps can offer definitions of difficult words, and they can also provide quizzes and exercises to help test understanding. In addition, Learning Apps can keep track of progress and motivate you to increase your reading activity. As a result, Learning Apps offer a powerful tool for improving reading comprehension.


If you’re looking for more resources to add to your reading comprehension strategies, LillyPad has some great tools to help. Our Reading Modes feature allows you to adjust the reading level of texts to match your own. This can be a great way to make challenging texts more accessible. Additionally, our Vocabulary feature provides definitions and pronunciations for difficult words, so you can quickly get up to speed on new vocabulary. Finally, Lilly’s Gold is a great way to test your comprehension skills. With this tool, you can take mini-quizzes on texts as you read them. This is a great way to ensure that you’re understanding what you’re reading. So check out these great features on LillyPad today and start improving your reading comprehension!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you improve poor reading comprehension?

Anyone who struggles with reading comprehension knows how frustrating it can be to see the words on the page but not be able to understand them. However, there are a number of strategies that can help to improve reading comprehension. There are many resources available, both online and in libraries, that can provide guidance and support.

Why can’t I understand what I read?

There are a number of potential reasons why this may be happening. It could be that the material is too challenging, or it could be that the reader is not reading at an appropriate level for their current skills.

Another possibility is that the reader is not paying close enough attention, or that they are not actively engaged in the material.

Additionally, external factors such as noise or distractions can also impact a person’s ability to understand what they read. If you are having trouble understanding what you read, it is important to try to identify the reason why.

Once you have a better understanding of the problem, you can take steps to improve your reading comprehension.

Why do I struggle with reading comprehension as an adult?

Some adults simply have not had much practice reading, either due to years of avoiding it or due to a lack of opportunities to read. Whatever the reason, struggling with reading comprehension as an adult can be frustrating and discouraging.

However, there are a number of strategies that can help adults improve their reading comprehension skills. By taking the time to slow down and focus while reading, and by seeking out books that match their interests and abilities, adults can gradually improve their understanding of the written text.

What are the major causes of poor reading ability?

There are three primary causes: a lack of exposure to reading material, difficulty decoding words, and comprehension difficulties.

A lack of exposure occurs when individuals do not have regular access to books or other reading materials. This can be due to poverty or a lack of resources in the community.

Difficulty decoding words occurs when individuals have difficulty sounding out words or understanding basic grammar rules. This can be due to a learning disability or inadequate instruction in early reading skills.

Comprehension difficulties occur when individuals cannot understand what they are reading. This can be due to a variety of factors, including a lack of prior knowledge about the topic, low motivation, or attention problems. 

Do people with ADHD have poor reading comprehension?

While there is still much to learn about ADHD, studies have shown that people with the condition tend to have difficulty with reading comprehension. This is thought to be due to the fact that ADHD affects executive functioning, which includes skills like organization and time management.

How long does it take to improve reading comprehension?

The answer to this question is largely dependent on the individual reader. Some readers may see a significant improvement in their reading comprehension after just a few weeks of dedicated practice, while others may take longer to see results. 

What are some ways to improve critical reading and reading comprehension skills?

1. Pay attention to the structure of the text. Most texts have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. By familiarizing yourself with this structure, you can better understand the author’s argument and follow the thread of the discussion.

2. Make sure you understand the vocabulary. If there are words in the text that you do not know, look them up! A dictionary can be your best friend when it comes to improving reading comprehension.

3. Take notes as you read. Active reading is key to understanding what you read. Jot down key points, make marginal annotations, and write summaries in your own words. These activities will help you keep track of the main ideas in the text and solidify your understanding of them.

4. Practice, practice, practice! The more you read, the better your reading comprehension skills will become. So find some interesting texts to read on a regular basis, whether it be news articles, blog posts, or even classic literature. The more exposure you have to good writing, the easier it will be to understand it.

How to improve reading comprehension when studying?

There are a few key strategies that can help improve reading comprehension. The first is to read actively. This means paying attention to the text and not letting your mind wander. It is also helpful to make notes in the margins or underline key points as you read.

Another useful strategy is to summarise what you have read in your own words. This will help to ensure that you have understood the main ideas and can recall them later.

Finally, it can be helpful to discuss what you have read with someone else. This will allow you to get another perspective on the material and identify any areas that are still unclear.

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Developing Comprehension Skills With

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Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning

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