Why You Have To Read Something Over And Over Again To Understand It

Many people wonder why it is necessary to read something over and over again to understand. In this article I’ll explain the reasons why this is necessary.

If you ever read a book once and didn’t understand it or at least start to understand it until you read it a second time, this article is for you.

Here are some of the reasons why:


When dealing with complex information from a book, it is really hard to comprehend what you’re reading in your first reading.

This is why in any guide about how to read complex books; one of the core ideas is to read material more than once.

Dense material that likely took the author a significant amount of time to come up with will likely not be understood in a single reading session.

As a reader, don’t be frustrated when you have to re-read a couple of times to understand because it’s not always your fault.

Dispersed Attention

They say that the brain can only focus on 7 things at any one time.

While this is a great attribute in human-hood, it comes with several consequences one of which is dispersed attention.

You may find it hard to read and understand a book in one sitting because your mind is just not focused enough likely because it is dispersed in several other directions.

Let’s face it, the daily grind of everyday life is something that pre-occupies our minds and there’s no telling as to when some of these things could sneak into our consciousness and distract us from the task at hand.

This is why when you read a book the second, most information will seem almost new because your attention hadn’t been a solely focused on reading the first time.


Reinforcement is associated with how your memory works.

Whenever you start to learn something new, your brains neural pathways are reinforced whenever you continue to learn and add on to the existing knowledge.

So when you read a book the first time, you introduce this knowledge in your brain.

When you re-read the book you reinforce this knowledge and are able to understand better because your brain would have some pre-existing knowledge from when you read first.

You’ll develop better understanding because you’d be drawing from your sub-conscious.

This is another reason why you’ll likely find valuable information that you missed in the first reading.

Your brain would be in better position to dig deeper and make assessments based on the knowledge attained in the first reading.

This is one of the reasons why you should never overlook the importance of repetition especially in studying.

Studying is essentially just training your brain to remember as well as it can learn.

A difference in learning styles

You may have wondered whether it’s normal or not to read a book and not understand on the first read. And I’m going to demystify this for you.

The fact is; people are different and one of the ways they differ is in their ability to learn.

Some people are just natural quick learners who can sit with a book once and be able to understand it well.

For others, it may take more than one reading session to understand what the book is saying.

It’s not that slow learners are less intelligent it’s that biologically, they’re wired differently.

If you happen to be somebody that requires more repetition to understand information then you’ll find yourself having to read something over and over to understand it.


We all have things that we are familiar with and unfamiliar with.

When we read books about topics that we know about, it’s generally easier to understand them in one reading session.

However with unfamiliar topics, we need more time and contact with the information to understand it.

The point is, sometimes it takes re-reading something a couple of times to understand because we aren’t familiar with it.

If you’re unfamiliar with a subject or topic, don’t worry about how long it takes you to understand a book. Just worry about understanding it, forget the time limit.

Information overload

Overloading your brain with too much information is another reason why it may hard for you to understand something the first time you read it.

The more information you put in your brain the more you overwhelm the memory capacity.

By reading something repeatedly, you allow your brain to break down the material into smaller chunks that it can easily learn and understand.

So whenever you question why your rate of understanding is declining, you might want to how much information you’ve been consuming.

Pros and cons of re-reading

Pros of re-reading

Better understanding

Going over information over and over makes your memory consolidate it and this makes learning easier.

 I’ve also come to realize that re-reading is one of the effective ways to read a book when you don’t entirely understand all its words; as is the case for older books where the writing style can easily throw you off.

Allows you to find what you missed

It’s easy for you to overlook information when reading, this is why re-reading can be a beneficial way to find the information that may have overlooked and give it the attention it needs.

Enhances clarity

Another reason why reading something over and over again can be beneficial is that it can enhance your clarity.

There’s power in re-reading and even the most committed bookworm will tell you that revisiting a book is a great way to learn more than you did the first time you read it.

Cons of re-reading

Time Consuming

One of the bad things about reading something over and over again is that it is time consuming.

If you think about how much time would go into reading a book again, you may realize just how time consuming it could be.

Not a guarantee

Going back to re-read some information in order to understand it better won’t always go your way.

Some books require a different approach in reading it and not just re-reading it for the sake of it.

This is why you need to understand how to read complex books so that you’re not disappointed by the fruits of your second reading.

The fact is, just because you re-read a book doesn’t always guarantee better understanding.

It can get boring

Going back to read something you’ve read before can get boring pretty fast. This is why you need to muster up some motivation before getting into the reading.

There are several ways to motivate yourself to read and its best you look at each one of them to help you when re-reading.