Reading Section

The TOEFL® Reading format is not fixed on its length. It depends on the nature of questions. If you get exploratory questions it will be 80 minutes long with 48-56 questions if you don’t the Reading will be for 60 minutes long and will contain 36-42 questions.

Main task: Read passages. These can be 3-4 in number. Passages are from varied topics- History, Science, Psychology, Art etc. Each passage has about 14 questions in all. You need to optimise on your time to go over all of them. A good Reading score is above 20 and more. It depends in which university you are applying to.

Reading question types:-

  1. Multiple choice questions
  2. Inserting a sentence
  3. Reading to learn

Kinds of reading passages

The TOEFL iBT® reading section is to understand the test taker's ability to grasp the books that they will run into at their tenure in university and college and to ensure that they go through it with ease. Not only for students even for those applying to migrate to Australia must also have a fair understanding of all the sections of this English proficiency test with reading section as no exception.

Reading sections are derived from textbooks from variety of subjects. Sometimes the text is customized but more or less editing is kept to a minimal amount. Reading passages are about 700 -750 words, individual excerpts can be long or short. ETS has categorized reading sections as descriptive ( a writing that describes a topic), argumentative ( a piece which puts forth a particular point of view with support and proof) or historical ( an extract based on past events). Passages could entail different types of combinations- compare and contrast cause and effect, problem and solution and so on.

Test taker of the iBT will find that all the required information necessary to to answer the questions will be included in the reading passages. The candidates need not have detailed knowledge of reading passage or the subject material.

Outline of TOEFL iBT® reading section question

The TOEFL iBT® reading section includes several kinds of multiple choice questions only, but there are a total of ten question types. These ten types of questions are categorised by ETS into two main sections: (i) Basic information and inference questions (ii) Reading to learn questions. Most of the reading questions come under the first category

Inference questions: In this section there are eight different types of questions. Two factual information questions (3-6 per reading passage) and vocabulary questions (3-5 per passage). In the former the test takers must be able to identify stated facts. In the vocabulary question there would be a need to pick up suitable words or phrases within the context and nature of the passage. Reading passages also include inference questions (1-3 each), rhetorical purpose questions (1-2 each), and insert text questions (1 each). Within inference questions one would need to reply to implied ideas and arguments, while rhetorical purpose questions ask why reading passage authors use citations, quotes, extracts or facts in a certain manner. Insert text questions make the test takers select the best placement within the passage for a new sentence.

Reading passages can also include negative information questions (0-2 each), reference questions (0-2 each), and sentence simplification questions (0-1 each). In the negative factual information question, candidates need to pick the answer choice which is not correct based on the passage. Reference questions on the other hand ask about connection between words and phrases. Lastly sentence simplification means selecting the answer that simplify or abridge the indicated sentence in the reading passage.

Reading to learn question

TOEFL iBT® has two kinds of reading to learn questions:- a) prose summary b) fill in a tab. Reading to learn is a minute part of the reading section and the TOEFL iBT® has only one question in this category per passage. This can be either one of the two mentioned above. In prose summary the questions assesses the identification and detection of important ideas and skill to grade them in order of significance. Fill in a tab questions need the candidates to classify and scrutinize ideas from the designated reading passage.

Understanding keywords and phrases

Identifying keywords and phrases within passages will give a lot of information on the question type and the underlying patterns. Candidates preparing for the TOEFL iBT® are recommended to review many examples of each of these question types. This would bring out relevant and useful patterns of questions and help exclude improbable answer choices and make the reading section simplified overall with such practice.

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