Reading Strategies

Reading is a skill that is used in all subject areas and can greatly increase or decrease a student’s success in the classroom. Reading strategies can be used to vary the approach students are given of any given text. Some reading strategies are summarized below.

Activating prior knowledge

Activating prior knowledge is a reading strategy that occurs before the student is introduced to reading material. The teacher uses a prereading activity, which can be done in the form of a journal or class discussion. This enables the reader to make connections between something they already have knowledge of and the new knowledge from the text.


Clarifying is making the meaning of the text clear to the reader. This reading strategy is used throughout reading. Students can be taught to ask questions, reread, restate, and visualize making the text more comprehendible.

Context Clues

Context clues is using words surrounding an unknown word to determine its meaning. This reading strategy can be taught in conjunction with vocabulary. Students should be encouraged to use context clues for an unfamiliar word while reading before immediately reaching for the dictionary.

Drawing Conclusions

Drawing conclusions is a reading strategy that is done after reading. To draw conclusions means the student uses written or visual clues to figure out something that is not directly stated in the reading. Teachers can facilitate this reading strategy by creating leading questions that relate to a reading. Students then respond with their own opinions, thoughts, or ideas that is based on information from their reading material.


Evaluating is a reading strategy that is conducted during and after reading. This involves encouraging the reader to form opinions, make judgments, and develop ideas from reading. Teachers can create evaluative questions that will lead the student to make generalizations about and critically evaluate a text.


Inferring is giving a logical guess based on facts or evidence presented using prior knowledge to help the reader understand the deeper meaning of a text. This reading strategy is conducted during reading. An activity to practice inferring with students is to take a sentence from a text. Then, have students state the explicit meaning of the sentence as well as the inferential meaning.


Predicting is using the text to guess what will happen next. Then the reader confirms or rejects their prediction as they read. Predicting is a reading strategy that done before and during reading. A technique to apply to this reading strategy is to use the Think, Pair, Share method. Have the students form predictions, share with a partner, and then participate in class discussion.


Rereading is a reading strategy that gives the reader another chance to make sense out of a challenging text. For practice, have students reread a passage to check for understanding and model when rereading can be helpful.


Restating is a reading strategy where the reader will retell, shorten, or summarize the meaning of a passage or chapter, either orally or in written form. This reading strategy can be performed during reading.

Setting a Purpose

This reading strategy is started before reading. Setting a purpose provides focus for the reader. You can introduce this reading strategy by having students read directions for a reading task and list the requirements. Students then need to determine why they are being asked to read. Eventually, you can start to encourage students to set their purpose when reading independently.

Skimming and Scanning

Skimming and scanning are reading strategies that can assist a reader in getting specific information from the text. Students should be taught appropriate times to skim or scan, such as looking for a specific answer, and inappropriate times to use scanning or skimming, such as when reading to comprehend. Skimming is a reading technique that is used to get a quick “gist” of a section or chapter. Scanning is a reading technique that is reading quickly to locate specific information. You can first introduce skimming and scanning by brainstorming a list of textual clues that will help students, such as bold-face type, capital letters, dates, key words, etc. Practice skimming and scanning can be practiced with short passages to gain mastery.


Visualizing is a reading strategy that encourages students to use mental images that emerge from reading the text. This is done during reading to aid in understanding. This reading strategy can be introduced by reading aloud a descriptive passage while students close their eyes and imagine how it looks. Students then draw or write what they see and justify how the text supports their image.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of all reading strategies. It is up to you, the teacher, to choose appropriate techniques for your student. Varying these reading strategies will increase the student’s comprehension, retention, and command over the subject matter.