Context & Predictions

Considering a text’s context, making predictions about a text’s information, and identifying a text’s patterns all are reading strategies that support:

  1. understanding the main idea
  2. actively engaging with the text as a reader, as engagement promotes understanding and meaning-making


Just as it’s important to consider your own background knowledge when reading a text, it’s important to consider the text’s background or context.  Based on your skimming of the text, you might consider the following questions about the text’s context:

  • Who wrote the text?
  • Do you know, or can you infer, anything about the author?
  • What was the author’s purpose?
  • In what type of publication was the text published?
  • When was the text published?  Is it current, outdated, historical? What is the significance of this time period in this field of study?
  • Who is the audience for the text? What would that audience expect to find in the text?
  • How might the type of audience affect the purpose and content?

You may have heard of the concept of “context clues” in reading, which refers to figuring out the meaning of an unfamiliar word by looking at nearby words in the sentence.  The idea of context in relation to a whole text is similar. Understanding the variables surrounding that text – the author, audience, etc. – can help you better understand the author’s intention and engage more fully in making meaning of the text.


Predicting upcoming information in a text is another strategy that promotes engagement with that text’s ideas, and engagement promotes understanding.  After you skim a text, you might ask prediction questions such as the following:
  • What type of information do I expect to find in this text?
  • What type of information would it be logical to include, based on the author’s purpose and/or main idea?
  • How do I think that information will be presented?
  • Will I end up agreeing or disagreeing with this author’s ideas and evidence?

Predictions do not only occur before reading a text.  You often consider your predictions as you read, and revise them based on the information that you are accruing from the reading.  After reading, you may go back to consider your predictions in light of the information you gained from the text.  As you can see, predicting is another skills that supports active reading.

The following video was made for an audience of elementary reading teachers. It clearly explains the importance of predictions in the reading process, and discusses how adult readers apply predictions toward the end.

try it

Skim the article, “Piracy Gave Me A Future.” Ask relevant context questions and make predictions about what to expect in the article. Also consider your own reactions to the article’s predicted content. Then look at one reader’s context questions and predictions.