What Is Active Reading? Engage With and Test Your Ability

When practicing comprehension skills, you may find yourself asking, what is active reading?

What Is Active Reading?

Active reading involves integrating text and visuals (i.e., illustrations) within written texts. It is most effective when there is some level of interactivity between the learner and the text.

Active reading emphasizes the integration of text and visuals and includes the learner in the critical steps of text comprehension. As a result, active reading is well-suited to developing and strengthening comprehension skills.

Active reading is often an integral part of the classroom.

Many textbooks and other reading materials are based heavily on active reading instruction. Students who have learned how to actively read may be able to read the passage once and then answer the questions immediately afterward.

Reading actively is a vital skill. It’s crucial to understand why active reading is important. It may end up being more useful than you thought.

Why Is Active Reading Important?

It is important because when you read or interpret text, you are actively gathering knowledge, deepening your understanding, and thinking critically. Active reading occurs when you examine an author’s choice of words and phrases and determine if the text is factual or opinion-based.

This enhances understanding, meaning, and appreciation of the text. It also takes more time than reading and skimming the article.

In a survey of the College Board, only 14% of high school seniors stated that they read whole books. The remaining students used textbooks or other electronic media such as a computer or an iPad. Students who can read and understand the text will be better prepared for college and their careers.

In addition, they will have the ability to use context to determine the meaning of words. They will also be able to read multiple texts with varied opinions and ideas. As you read a story, you will notice that reading involves more than just words.

It is about the author’s tone of voice, paragraphs, and point of view. Reading with good comprehension will teach you how to analyze the information in text and how to evaluate a conclusion.

Woman in the process of reading actively in the 3rd step.
Reading and reflecting photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash

What Are 3 Steps in Active Reading?

The three steps in active reading are: 1) Pre-reading (skim & scan), 2) Reading (understanding), and 3) Rereading (clarifying). These 3 steps are reading strategies that have given great results!

1. Pre-Reading (Skim & Scan)

By pre-reading, we are “skimming” the first part of the book. This is the first step of your reading strategy. Skimming a book is not a waste of your time. It is merely getting the general gist of the book.

Skimming gives you a preliminary idea of what the book is going to be about and what it is about. By summarizing the main points, facts, and arguments of the book, you prepare your mind for what you will read.

2. Reading (Understanding)

After skimming, you can decide whether you want to continue reading or not. Read through the first several chapters (if the book is a short one).

Read the paragraphs and sentences you find interesting and important. Don’t miss anything, but also don’t get bogged down by information that does not interest you.

The purpose of reading is to gain a comprehensive understanding of what the author wrote.

3. Rereading (Clarifying)

After you have finished reading your book, reread the paragraphs you found interesting and important. You may want to also skim the rest of the book to get a preliminary idea of what you have missed.

Reflect on what you’ve read to answer the questions above.

Take advantage of your final reflection. Show how you have been able to improve your knowledge and understanding of the book through your reading and the questions you have asked.

Wrap Up: Benefit From Active Reading

Benefit from active reading by making sure you have time to read every day. If you are going to navigate to the next website on your phone, read the above steps BEFORE turning to those pages. This will allow you to maximize your time.

The steps of active reading should not be a response to people or things that interrupt your work.

Be proactive. Program yourself to start reading 15 to 20 minutes before you are supposed to. Ideally, set a reminder on your phone to remind you to open a book 15 to 20 minutes before you need to. If you have time in that window, actively read. If not, at least spend a few seconds skimming over the page.

Doing this regularly will help you stay disciplined and on track.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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