Making Predictions

Making Predictions

Author: Sydney Bauer
This lesson explains the reading strategy of making predictions when reading.
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Introduction to Psychology

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Making Predictions

When you are asked to make predictions before or while you are reading, you are being asked to consider the information provided in the reading and make an educated guess as to what will happen, or make an inference about what the ideas are building towards. This might slow down the active reading process the first few times you try it, but you should do your best to avoid agonizing over the predictions you make. The more often you take the time to make predictions, the easier it will become. Eventually, your brain will begin making predictions automatically when you read.


Make sure that you limit yourself to making plausible predictions. What I mean is, don’t make silly, outlandish, or ridiculous predictions that couldn’t possibly happen.


  • For example, you wouldn’t make the prediction that aliens will land in the middle of the street in the second to last chapter of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It would be highly unlikely, and there’s no evidence early on in the book to support that prediction.
    • You could make the prediction that the novel is gaining momentum as the plot unfolds, and that something is bound to happen at the party at the end of the novel (when nearly all of the major characters will be gathered together). You might make predictions about what will happen between WWII veteran Septimus and his psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw, or Peter Walsh and Mrs. Dalloway.


Before you read:

  • Consider the type of book or piece of writing that you are about to read
    • Is it fiction (made up) or non-fiction?
    • When was the book written?
    • Who wrote it? Is that author famous or well-known for a certain type of writing?
  • Now make some predictions:
    • What do you think will happen in the book? Why do you think that?
    • It’s a good idea to consider the title, cover, and any other information that is provided on the cover of the book.



As you read, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Based on what has happened so far in the text, what do I expect to happen next?
    • What will be the result of the events that have happened so far?
  • Based on the information I’ve read so far, where do I think the discussion is heading?
    • What will be this writer’s conclusion?
    • What can I expect to learn (or discover) from the information I have yet to read?


How does making predictions before/during a reading help improve reading comprehension?

It keeps your mind focused on the task of considering the evidence or information you read and then formulating a prediction, and comparing your prediction (what you expected to happen in the story or what you expected to learn) against what actually happens in the reading.


Making predictions, especially while reading, forces your mind to participate in a game of guess-and-check, where you make an educated guess as to what will happen or where the information will lead, and once you’ve completed more reading (another chapter, section, or the book as a whole) checking those guesses against the new information. It’s like extended problem solving.