How to Analyze the Text for Deeper Understanding

Different Ways of Analyzing the Text
By Patti Hutchison

1     Analyzing involves digging deeper into the meaning of the text. It goes beyond memorizing facts, dates, and names. It requires more than main ideas and details. Analyzing means forming an educated opinion about what you have read.
2     One way to analyze is to form questions about the text. These might include the five "W" questions: who, what, where, when, and why. For example, you might ask why a character said or did something specific in the story. Then you might ask, "How did that contribute to the story line?" Put yourself in the author's place, and then try to figure out answers to your questions.
3     This type of analysis can also be used with non-fiction texts. The answers to your questions will be factual at first. But then you can try to find deeper meaning and form an opinion about what you have read. For example, when reading a history article, you may ask, "Who were the key figures in this battle?" Your answer will be a list of names. But then dig deeper by asking, "How did their actions contribute to the win (or loss) of the battle?" By doing this you are trying to analyze their leadership skills to form an opinion in your own mind. Would you have wanted to go into battle with this leader?
4     Analyzing can also include making a comparison. In fiction, compare the personalities of two characters. Then form an opinion about them. Which one would you want to have as a friend? Which one acted more bravely? You might also compare different events in the plot. How did each one make you feel as you read it? Which was more exciting, scary, or touching?
5     You can also make comparisons when reading non-fiction. For example, compare the digestive systems of cows with human digestive systems. How does each contribute to the support of the body? Which seems more efficient? Why do you think this way? You have done a good job of analyzing if you can give reasons to back up your opinion.
6     Evaluating is another way to analyze the text. Evaluating involves making a judgment about an event or character. When reading fiction, evaluate the characters' actions. Would you have acted that way? How would you have solved the problem? What would you have said or done differently? Or, think about the setting of the story. Does it contribute effectively to the story line? If you were to rewrite the story, would you have given it a different setting? Then give reasons why you would have written it this way.
7     Evaluating non-fiction can be a little more difficult. You might form a judgment by asking, "How important is this to our lives today?" "What if this event or discovery had not taken place?" For example, if you are reading in science about the vaccine for polio, think about how our lives might be different today if this discovery had not been made. The same can be done when reading about history. For example, "What if the South had won the Civil War?" "Would our country be better or worse because of it? As always, give reasons to back up your opinion.
8     You can become a more active reader by analyzing the text. Examine the ideas in the information you have read. Form opinions about it. This will make the reading "come alive" for you. It will become more interesting if you can connect the text to your own life in this way.

Copyright © 2009 edHelper