The TOEFL Reading section consists of several series of questions that are based on passages, each one around 700 words in length. This section can last from 60 to 100 minutes. It covers passages that resemble the type of material that may be found in a textbook for an undergraduate university course. The questions assess your ability to interpret main ideas and information, both implied and explicit, and to critique a piece of writing’s organization and argument. New types of questions on the TOEFL iBT test require students to fill in tables or complete summaries.


How to Ace the TOEFL Reading Section

The test is composed of 3 to 5 passages with 12 to 14 questions each. The time allotted to the Reading section depends on whether you are taking the normal version (60 minutes) or the extended version (100 minutes). People are randomly selected to complete the extended version; it is impossible to know which version you will take until you begin the exam.

The Reading section focuses on 8 different types of questions:

  • Main idea questions: What is the main idea of the passage? How does the author support the main idea?
  • Detail questions: What factual or implicit details are given to create the setting? Who is the speaker and who is the intended audience?
  • Vocabulary questions: What are the literal or symbolic meanings of a given vocabulary word?
  • Inference questions: What details that are not explicitly mentioned can you glean from the passage?
  • Sentence simplification: How can you improve the clarity of a given sentence?
  • Sentence insertion: Amongst the 5 choices given, where would the provided sentence fit the best?
  • Rhetoric in purpose: Explain what the author means in this particular passage.
  • Reading to learn: What would improve the passage’s organization? Are there irrelevant details that detract from the argument?

It may seem complicated, but we assure you that it’s not! With these pointers, you can and will ace the Reading section:

  • Skim: Skim the text to find out the overall gist and the main idea.
  • Summarize: Jot down the main point of each paragraph to understand the passage’s organization.
  • Practice: Read articles on a daily basis. Think about the main ideas. Envision possible questions on each article as if it were the test.
  • Take notes: Learn how to do this with our special bonus, “How to take notes”.


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