What Are the Four Levels of Reading?

Four Levels of Reading

Reading is an integral part of our education and an activity that can enrich our general knowledge throughout our entire lives. Reaching proficiency that is required for us to be able to successfully use reading as a learning tool depends on us being able to master all four important levels of reading. 

What are the four levels of reading? Well, as you might expect, we did some pretty extensive research for you here at Basmo and we learned everything there is to know about these reading levels. 

Our passion for reading goes way beyond it being a daily entertainment activity, and we love getting to know all the interesting details and secrets of this amazing activity. Luckily for you, the one thing we love almost as much as reading is sharing our knowledge with you. 

What do we understand through levels of reading?

The definition of these levels in reading can be quite vague, depending on what exactly the different levels of reading represent. On one hand, reading levels can refer to the way the reading skills evolve in a student according to the grade they are in and what they should be able to accomplish through reading at their age and education level. 

These levels can also be looked at as levels of reading comprehension, which goes a lot further than our basic ability to read a text. Reading comprehension refers to how we are able to understand a piece of text and how in-depth we are able to analyze and extract the relevant information from it. This is the more popular way to define reading levels. 

What are the four levels of reading?

The importance of understanding the 4 levels of reading and making sure to master them all stands as a crucial building block for our education. Acknowledging their existence and meaning is the first step on our journey to become better, more efficient readers

So, because here at Basmo we learned that the levels of readers do have an impact on how reading is perceived by each individual, our commitment to helping you achieve your reading goals pushes us to thoroughly explain each level.

Elementary reading

Elementary reading, as the name suggests, is the first reading level we usually achieve early in school. The first couple of grades in elementary school are almost entirely dedicated to teaching students how to read. 

Mastering elementary reading usually happens in the early years of school, differing from one student to another depending on a series of factors. This reading level only involves the most basic understanding of the text, learning the essential rudiments of reading, and represents the line between illiteracy to basic literacy. Sadly, a big part of the world population barely masters this basic level of reading. 

Inspectional reading

Also referred to as pre-reading or skimming, this second level of reading abilities makes the difference between barely literate people and those who manage to have a more intelligent approach. 

The more intellectual aspect of this reading level refers to one’s ability to skim through a book and find the most important ideas, the key information, and determine whether they will find it interesting or not. Doing this based solely on very limited information acquired through a quick skimming of a book shows that the reader is capable of separating the details from the key aspects of the reading material, and that makes a huge difference in how we read and perceive reading as an activity.

Inspectional reading involves a deeper understanding of a text, despite the fact that most readers underappreciated it as a reading habit and dismiss it as a waste of time. Reading doesn’t necessarily have to be done linearly, there is no law saying that you should only read one page after the other starting with page one. 

As a matter of fact, there are several important benefits of skimming few people know about and it even represents a rather significant and recognized reading technique. Skimming through a book before actually reading it can have a huge impact on our comprehension and information retention.

Analytical reading

While mastering the first two levels would be enough for someone who only reads for entertainment purposes, those who want to use reading as an effective learning tool will need to move on to analytical reading.

This level revolves around improving comprehension and going deeper into the meaning of the text we are going through. This is a more systematic process, one that requires a certain level of planning and determination, and is usually associated with a clear purpose for our reading. 

Analytical reading involves asking yourself important questions while consuming the content, trying to walk in the characters’ shoes, understanding the story to its core meaning, and analyzing not only the story told but also how the story is told.

If you want your analytical reading to feel like less of a chore, you should know that Basmo can make your life a whole lot easier in many aspects of your reading. 

First of all, Basmo makes it a lot easier for you to be organized. It allows you to set a clear schedule for your analytical reading sessions, and this is an essential step in making sure you get the best out of every session.

You can schedule them on any day of the week, make the sessions recurring, and even select different times for each day. Not only that, but the app will also remind you of all your upcoming reading sessions through notifications.

Second, Basmo allows you to keep a reading journal and take notes while reading.

Whether you choose to write short notes to remember the important ideas from your book, or you decide to make more extensive notes about how certain books make you feel, Basmo has got you covered.

Use the journaling feature to jot down extensive thoughts about the reading you are doing or go for the quicker way of making notes as you read. Both the journal and the notes feature allow you to format your text however you see fit, making it very easy for you to organize them and analyze them later.

And since analytical reading revolves around a clearer purpose, you should always know that setting goals for your reading performance is very quickly and easily done with the Basmo app.

Whether you want to micromanage your reading sessions and set a daily goal for the time you want to spend reading, or you are more interested in the bigger picture and want to use a yearly goal for the total number of books you read, the goals are just as easy to set up and follow up on.

The app even tracks your progress and lets you constantly check how close you are to meeting your goals.

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Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time. 

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Syntopical reading

Syntopical reading is the most advanced level of reading, one that is only achieved with a clear intent to become as advanced a reader as possible. It requires serious effort on the reader’s part, it is complex and systematic, and also goes by the name “comparative reading”.

As this alternative name suggests, syntopical reading involves a level of involvement in the reading activity that goes well beyond sticking to a single book. Syntopical reading adds a layer of mindfulness to the process to the extent that all the reading that is currently done goes through the filter of the books read in the past.

What this means is that while reading, every piece of information is compared and linked to information previously acquired from books read in the past. As you can imagine, this is a complex mental process that requires a ton of effort and a level of dedication that is unmatched in lower reading levels. 

Achieving this level obviously comes with a series of benefits for the reader, including notable enhancements to general knowledge, mental health benefits, and even brain health improvements

As syntopical reading is a challenging activity, you will need all the help you can get in order to be able to carry it out. Luckily, our passion for reading can be seen in the way we built our reading app, and it can help you carry out complex syntopical reading sessions with relative ease.

On top of the features I mentioned above, Basmo also encourages you to create reading lists that can be easily edited, adjusted, and personalized.

Whether you want to use Basmo to create a separate reading list for the books you plan to apply your syntopical reading abilities to, or you want to use it for a more complex reading planning like grouping the books you identified as being linked together in separate reading lists, Basmo can help you achieve that easily.

Needless to say, the journaling and note-taking features I mentioned above also come in handy during syntopical reading sessions. 

Not only that, but Basmo will also allow you to easily save quotes from the books you are reading or even scan entire pages and save them as notes.

This can be easily done by scanning the pages of the book with your phone’s camera and then extracting the text.

This comes in handy when reading syntopically because you can easily go through your older notes while reading in order to make all the necessary connections.

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Basmo can easily help you set and reach your reading early goals. It’s super easy to use and 100% free to download, so what have you got to lose?

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Why you should master all four levels

As you can imagine, when looking at all the different reading levels, one can only come to the conclusion that in an ideal world we would all master all four. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, but here is why you should strive to achieve your maximum potential.

Each reading level presented above adds an extra layer of comprehension and comes with serious improvements to the way we are able to learn and acquire new information. While the first level is essential even for our most basic education, it is also a critical building block for the second level of reading.

Each level is essential for reaching the next one, and the most advanced level, syntopical reading, can seriously impact the way you perceive the world, how quickly you are able to understand new concepts or simply how quickly and well you are able to retain information.

Your ultimate goal should be to be in constant competition with yourself, and constantly strive to achieve new highs with your reading, whether that means improving your reading speed, your information retention rate, or your level of comprehension. 


So, what are the four levels of reading? On top of representing clear milestones each reader needs to overcome in order to constantly improve reading abilities, they are also crucial parts of our education. Achieving new highs as a society, whether we are referring to technological advances or to improvements to general empathy, is completely dependent on how much we read and what kind of readers we become. Basmo is here to help regardless of your level or your goals.

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