Gist Strategy

This strategy teaches students to use prediction as a comprehension aid when reading expository text. The ability to predict what a passage will be about is often based on prior knowledge. Tapping this background knowledge can effectively increase the students’ comprehension of the text to be read.

  1. Prereading – Have the students predict the gist, or main point, of the text by scanning the page to get a feel for what it will be about. Record predictions about the topic on the board.

    Prompts – What do you think this text is going to be about? What makes you think so? What do you think it is going to tell us about our topic? What makes you think so?

  2. Reading – Have the students read the assigned text.

    Prompts – Did you find evidence to support your prediction? What was it? Did you find evidence that doesn’t support your prediction? What was it? At this point, do you want to change your prediction? Why or why not?

  3. Postreading – Have the students think about what they have read and make a final revision of the gist statement. Discuss.

    Prompts – Do you want to make any changes about this topic? If yes, what changes and why? What have you learned from this reading?

After this strategy has been demonstrated a few times, the students should be able to respond without the prompts, thus internalizing the process for independent use.


Schuder, T., Clewell, S., & Jackson, N. "Getting the gist of expository text." K.D. Muth, (Ed.), Children's Comprehension of Text. Newark: International Reading Association, 1989. pp.224-243.

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