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Introduction to the TOEFL® reading section

Introduction to the TOEFL® reading section

One of the four parts of the TOEFL Test is the Reading section. This is the section that measures a candidate’s ability to understand written university level academic text and passages. Academic reading has three purposes:

The first one is reading to find information which includes effectively scanning text for key facts and important information.

Basic comprehension entails understanding the general topic or main idea, important facts or details, vocabulary in context and pronoun usage.

Finally, reading to learn is about recognizing the organisation and purpose of a passage, understanding how ideas relate, Organizing information into a category or chart or summary so as to recall major points and concluding how ideas connect throughout the passage.

A Description of the Reading Section

The TOEFL iBT Reading section has three to four reading passages of which each has twelve to fourteen questions. Candidates are allocated sixty to eighty minutes within which they are supposed to be done with the questions in all the sections.

The TOEFL iBT Reading passages are nothing more than text excerpts from university-level textbooks from any topic in a wide range of unrelated topics. The candidates need not necessarily be familiar with the topic as all the information requisite to tackle the questions is in the passage. The passage is also left as original as it could possibly be for the candidate to demonstrate their true understanding power.

As it is done online, a passage will oftentimes present information in more than one perspective. This is an important point for candidates as they progress as there must be at least one question that will require one to show that they have understood the passage’s general organization.


Reading Material

Number of Questions



3-4 Passages

12-14 Questions each

60-80 Minutes



Formats of Reading Questions

There are three formats which questions may assume in the reading section. They include:

  • A traditional multi-choice answer type of question with four options and one correct answer.

  • Questions with four choices and one answer that require one to “insert a sentence” in the best fitting position in the passage.

  • Questions with over four choices and more than one correct answer (“Reading to learn questions”).

Each question must have a reading to learn type question testing the candidate’s ability to recognize the organization of a passage and understand the relationships among facts and ideas in various parts of the passage. Samples of such questions may be found on the learning section of our TOEFL preparation course. This site has a wide range of wide reach of test material formatted as mock tests to see how ready the candidate is for the real one.

For TOEFL iBT test candidate, the best practice for one’s English-language skills is regularly reading. Especially advisable is reading university textbooks or other materials covering a wide range of issues from a wide area of coverage, be they sciences, arts or social sciences, so long as they are written in an academic style. Our learning course contains question banks on all types of possible questions and ways to handle them best. From a view point of information, our experienced TOEFL exam team have incredibly valuable pointers and tips to their clients on how best one could attempt and pass the exam.