TOEFL® Reading Practice

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[1]  Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is known as one of the most important and controversial scientific theories ever published. Darwin was an English scientist in the 19th century best known for his book “On the Origin of Species.” In his book, Darwin postulated different species shared characteristics of common ancestors, that they branched off from common ancestors as they evolved, and that new traits and characteristics were a result of natural selection. The theory is based on the assumptions that life developed from non-life and progressed and evolved in an indirect manner. Therefore, the Theory of Evolution, while controversial, has shaped and influenced the modern scientific world's thinking on the development of life itself. Darwin was born February 12, 1809 in England. Although initially entering into medicine, Darwin chose to pursue his interest in natural science and embarked on a five-year journey aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, a British sloop belonging to the Royal Navy. Because of his experience aboard the Beagle, he laid the foundation for his Theory of Evolution while also establishing himself within the scientific community. Specifically, Darwin's keen observation of the fossils and wildlife he saw during his time on the Beagle served as the basis for the cornerstone of his theory: natural selection.
 

[2]  Natural selection contributes to the basis of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. One of the core tenets of Darwin's theory is that more offspring are always produced for a species than can possibly survive. Yet, no two offspring are perfectly alike. As a result, through random mutation and genetic drift, over time offspring develop new traits and characteristics. Over time beneficial traits and characteristics that promote survival will be kept in the gene pool while those that harm survival will be selected against. Therefore, this natural selection ensures that a species gradually improves itself over an extended duration of time. On the other hand, as a species continues to 'improve' itself, it branches out to create entirely new species that are no longer capable of reproducing together.
 

[3]  Through natural selection, organisms could branch off of each other and evolve to the point where they no longer belong to the same species. Consequently, simple organisms evolve into more complex and different organisms as species break away from one another. Natural selection parallels selective breeding employed by humans on domesticated animals for centuries. Namely, horse breeders will ensure that horses with particular characteristics, such as speed and endurance, are allowed to produce offspring while horses that do not share those above-average traits will not. Therefore, over several generations, the new offspring will already be pre-disposed towards being excellent racing horses.
 

[4]  Darwin's theory is that 'selective breeding' occurs in nature as 'natural selection' is the engine behind evolution. Thus, the theory provides an excellent basis for understanding how organisms change over time. Nevertheless, it is just a theory and elusively difficult to prove. One of the major holes in Darwin's theory revolves around “irreducibly complex systems.” An irreducibly complex system is known as a system where many different parts must all operate together. As a result, in the absence of one, the system as a whole collapses. Consequently, as modern technology improves, science can identify these “irreducibly complex systems” even at microscopic levels. These complex systems, if so inter-reliant, would be resistant to Darwin's supposition of how evolution occurs. As Darwin himself admitted, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivance for adjusting the focus for different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I free confess, absurd in the highest degree".

[5]  In conclusion, “On the Origin of Species” is known as one of the most consequential books ever published. Darwin's Theory of Evolution remains, to this day, a lightning rod for controversy. The theory can be observed repeatedly, but never proven, and there are a plethora of instances that cast doubt on the processes of natural selection and evolution. Darwin's conclusions were a result of keen observation and training as a naturalist. Despite the controversy that swirls around his theory, Darwin remains one of the most influential scientists and naturalists ever born due to his Theory of Evolution.
 

Reading Passage Vocabulary

[1]  Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is known as one of the most important and controversial scientific theories ever published. Darwin was an English scientist in the 19th century best known for his book “On the Origin of Species.” In his book, Darwin postulated different species shared characteristics of common ancestors, that they branched off from common ancestors as they evolved, and that new traits and characteristics were a result of natural selection. The theory is based on the assumptions that life developed from non-life and progressed and evolved in an indirect manner. Therefore, the Theory of Evolution, while controversial, has shaped and influenced the modern scientific world's thinking on the development of life itself. Darwin was born February 12, 1809 in England. Although initially entering into medicine, Darwin chose to pursue his interest in natural science and embarked on a five-year journey aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, a British sloop belonging to the Royal Navy. Because of his experience aboard the Beagle, he laid the foundation for his Theory of Evolution while also establishing himself within the scientific community. Specifically, Darwin's keen observation of the fossils and wildlife he saw during his time on the Beagle served as the basis for the cornerstone of his theory: natural selection.
 

[2]  Natural selection contributes to the basis of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. One of the core tenets of Darwin's theory is that more offspring are always produced for a species than can possibly survive. Yet, no two offspring are perfectly alike. As a result, through random mutation and genetic drift, over time offspring develop new traits and characteristics. Over time beneficial traits and characteristics that promote survival will be kept in the gene pool while those that harm survival will be selected against. Therefore, this natural selection ensures that a species gradually improves itself over an extended duration of time. On the other hand, as a species continues to 'improve' itself, it branches out to create entirely new species that are no longer capable of reproducing together.
 

[3]  Through natural selection, organisms could branch off of each other and evolve to the point where they no longer belong to the same species. Consequently, simple organisms evolve into more complex and different organisms as species break away from one another. Natural selection parallels selective breeding employed by humans on domesticated animals for centuries. Namely, horse breeders will ensure that horses with particular characteristics, such as speed and endurance, are allowed to produce offspring while horses that do not share those above-average traits will not. Therefore, over several generations, the new offspring will already be pre-disposed towards being excellent racing horses.
 

[4]  Darwin's theory is that 'selective breeding' occurs in nature as 'natural selection' is the engine behind evolution. Thus, the theory provides an excellent basis for understanding how organisms change over time. Nevertheless, it is just a theory and elusively difficult to prove. One of the major holes in Darwin's theory revolves around “irreducibly complex systems.” An irreducibly complex system is known as a system where many different parts must all operate together. As a result, in the absence of one, the system as a whole collapses. Consequently, as modern technology improves, science can identify these “irreducibly complex systems” even at microscopic levels. These complex systems, if so inter-reliant, would be resistant to Darwin's supposition of how evolution occurs. As Darwin himself admitted, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivance for adjusting the focus for different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I free confess, absurd in the highest degree".

[5]  In conclusion, “On the Origin of Species” is known as one of the most consequential books ever published. Darwin's Theory of Evolution remains, to this day, a lightning rod for controversy. The theory can be observed repeatedly, but never proven, and there are a plethora of instances that cast doubt on the processes of natural selection and evolution. Darwin's conclusions were a result of keen observation and training as a naturalist. Despite the controversy that swirls around his theory, Darwin remains one of the most influential scientists and naturalists ever born due to his Theory of Evolution.
 

TOEFL Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.
Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the TOEFL reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a TOEFL reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.

Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your TOEFL reading score. In other words, skimming is a critical skill to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
TOEFL Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

1.Skim through the entire reading passage and get a rough idea of what the reading passage is about.

2.Read the question and start scanning the paragraph for related words or keywords from the question. (Most questions will tell you which paragraph the question is referring too.)

3.Quickly read the sentence with the related keywords and the sentences surrounding it to find the answer.

4.Can't find the answer? Skip this question and come back later. There are at least 3 reading passages each with 14 questions. Complete all the questions that do not require you to thoroughly read the passages. Once done, go back to each skipped question and now read the passage carefully keeping note how much time and questions you have left.
TOEFL Reading Question Types

The TOEFL reading test contains 10 different question types:

VocabularyLesson: Vocabulary Question
ReferenceLesson: Reference Question
Essential InformationLesson: Essential Information Question
InferenceLesson: Inference Question
Sentence InsertionLesson: Sentence Insertion Question
PurposeLesson: Purpose Question
DetailLesson: Detail Question
Negative FactualLesson: Negative Factual Question
Complete the SummaryLesson: Complete the Summary Question
Complete the TableLesson: Complete the Table Question
 
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