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Introduction to the TOEFL® Reading Section

Introduction to the TOEFL® Reading Section

There are 4 sections in the TOEFL test: TOEFL reading, listening, speaking, and writing. In this post, We’ll get to know more about the Reading Section.

What is the Reading Section for?

The reading section is designed to test how well you can read, understand and interpret college-level academic writing. If you’re planning to attend college/university, the reading passages will be similar to what you will encounter in college introductory textbooks.

However, the TOEFL reading difficulty can vary, so it may or may not be more difficult than most of the texts you have read before, though a good rule of thumb is to expect it to be more difficult. That reason for this is because of the advanced language level it uses and unfamiliar topics. The TOEFL uses a wide range of topics and there is a good chance you’ll encounter a topic you are unfamiliar with. This where BestMyTest comes in handy as we also use a wide range of topics for you to become familiar. You can start learning here: TOEFL Reading Practice.

The format

The reading section contains three to four passages in total, so the total time for the reading section can range from 60 to 80 minutes. (That’s 20 minutes per passage).

Before knowing the questions, you will have a chance to read the whole passage. After you have read the passage, by clicking "next", you will move on to the first question in a window next to the passage. The passage will stay on the screen the whole 20 minutes. It will not disappear when the questions appear.

Many questions are specific to a particular paragraph. When that is the case, an arrow will appear on the passage window marking the relevant paragraph. The arrow only marks the relevant paragraph. It does not block the rest of the reading. So you can scroll up and down to see the rest of the passage.

Most of the questions in the TOEFL reading section have only one correct answer. The only exception to this is the table questions, in which you are given 5 or more answer choices. You will have to choose the correct answers and arrange them accordingly in the table. For this question, there will be instructions stating clearly how many points that the question is worth. Sometimes, there are also questions that require you to choose 2 answers. With those, there will be special instructions saying "CHOOSE TWO answers". So only choose one answer for every question unless told otherwise.

Want to experience the format of the TOEFL reading test yourself? You can practice a TOEFL test free here: TOEFL Simulation Test

Help from TOEFL?

The TOEFL themselves know that there is no way for you to know all the reading topics of the passages, and they don't expect you to. For some passages, there is technical vocabulary included. Again, the TOEFL does not expect you to know those words. They will be underlined. When you click on them, definitions of those words will be shown.

There are definition questions in the reading section. With those questions, you will have to choose the best definition for the word asked. The TOEFL will never ask you for the definition of a technical word. The chosen words are all general English or terms that are already explained clearly in the passage.