TOEFL® reading Practice
- Score: 0
- Correct: 0
- Incorrect: 0
TOEFL® reading Practice 1 / 1
TOEFL® reading Practice 1 / 1
TOEFL® reading Practice 1 / 1
TOEFL® Reading Tips for Success
These tips will help you achieve your target score on the TOEFL reading test, but only if you take them seriously and practice everyday.
1. Improve Your Reading Speed
Time is critical during the reading test. Being able to read and "UNDERSTAND" each passage quickly will seriously help you score higher in the reading test.
The reading test consists of 3 - 4 passages and 36 - 56 questions. The time allotted for the reading test depends on how many questions you must answer. 80 minutes is the max amount of time given.
Let's do the math on the following max case scenario:
Reading Test Details
- 56 questions
- 4 passages
- 80 minutes
Let's say you were able to read each passage in 0 seconds. That's right, 0 seconds.
80 minutes / 56 question = 1.43 minutes or 1 minute and 25 seconds per question.
WOW! Without reading the passages, you only have 1.43 minutes per question and some of the questions are tough and will need maybe 2 - 3 minutes to complete.
I hope you are beginning to understand how important reading speed is to succeed at the TOEFL reading test.
Now, we will take into account time to read the passage. Let's say it takes you around 8 minutes to read each passage. That will only leave you with 48 minutes to answer 56 questions.
48 minutes / 56 question = 51 seconds per question.
51 seconds is not enough time!
However, after some training, you should be able to read each passage in less than 4 minutes. Reading the passage in less than 4 minutes will give you a considerable advantage and allow you to score higher.
Below are some training techniques you can use to improve your reading speed.
- Time yourself when you study for the test and note how long it takes you to go through a given passage. You will likely notice that you slow down when your level of comprehension drops down, and that’s normal! When you understand less, you need to slow down and read more carefully.
- Everyone reads at a different pace. Your task is to make your reading pace slightly faster for the very specific test-taking situation, so you can switch gears and go into full-speed mode if you need to.
- Apart from studying TOEFL-style academic passages, be sure to read other English language material as well. Read English literature, newspapers and magazines—reading a variety of English writing styles will help improve your reading speed.
2. Work on Your Comprehension Speed
Once you have worked on your reading speed and can finish a passage in in under 4 minutes (4 minutes is the preferred time for success), you are ready for the next step.
Now you need to teach yourself to remain calm and avoid stressing out when you encounter an unfamiliar word.
The reading section is full of unfamiliar challenging words, but don't worry, because they add them on purpose to test you. They want to test your ability to understand complex words by how they are used in the passage and do not expect you to look up each complex word in a dictionary..
Now that you are relaxed when facing the unknown word, here is what you do next...
IGNORE IT AND SKIP IT!
Simply continue reading the passage. By the end, you will have a better understand of what the word could mean.
The most important thing is to stay relaxed, not stress out, and maintain your 4 minute pace.
3. Learn TOEFL Vocabulary
To be clear, we are not contradicting our last tip about ignoring unfamiliar words. In fact, we expect you to read through the entire passage and try to understand the words on your own, before looking up the words for yourself.
Although we have a list of vocabularies already created for you, we also recommend having an English-to-English dictionary at your disposal for a couple reasons:
One, you can bring it with you everywhere you go and look up words you do not know.
Two, using a dictionary will allow you to familiarize yourself with synonyms (similar words) and antonyms (opposite words(.
Synonyms and antonyms are extremely useful for the TOEFL.
4. Don't get stuck. Keep Moving!
We have already talked about managing your time via improving your reading speed and ignoring unfamiliar words.
I guess you have started noticing a pattern in these tips... TIME MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL!
Never get stuck. Keep moving until the end. The reading test allows you to go back to previous answers quickly. (Take a look at our TOEFL Simulated Reading Test for a better understanding of how you can quickly navigate through the reading test questions.)
Finish all the questions you know, then go back and finish the tougher questions. The worst thing you can do is get stuck on a tough question and maybe get 1 point for figuring it out, but end up losing out on 3 or more points of potentially easy questions because you ran out of time.
TOEFL® Reading Detail/Negative Detail Question Types - How to Answer Correctly
Detail/ Negative detail question
This question type asks you to identify specific details within the asked paragraph, not a general idea or theme from the whole reading. It is important to focus only on the paragraph and make no assumption from connections from the rest of the reading.
There are two types of questions:
- negative detail.
Detail question asks you to choose a detail that exists in the paragraph.
Negative detail question asks you to choose the answer choice that is not in the paragraph. Let’s look at a detail question as an example for some tips for this type of question.
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.
According to the paragraph, what are the causes for species developing new traits and characteristics?
- Medicine and longevity
- Survival and selection
- Mutation and genetic drift
- Tenets and theory
The following 2 steps will help your success rate at answering this question correctly.
Step 1: scanning for information from the question
The keyword in the question is ‘developing new traits and characteristics.’ You need to scan for exact or similar information from the paragraph. In this example, the phrase ‘develop new traits and characteristics” appears exactly in sentence 4. After this first step, you know where in the passage to read closer.
Step 2: elimination
Reread the full question again (not just the keyword like in step one) to make sure whether the question asks for who, how, why or what. Then read a few sentences around sentence 4. In this case, it will be sentence (3), (4) and (5). After reading those sentences, you can eliminate option (A) and (D) immediately since those details are not in the sentences you just read. (B) is also not the correct answer. Even though the details in (B) are in the sentences, survival and selection are the results of ‘new traits and characteristics’ not the causes of them. After eliminating all, we can accept (C) as the correct answer.
TOEFL® Reading Inference Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Inference question requires you to make logical assumptions and connections based on the information in the passage to come up with a new conclusion. In other words, inference question asks you to pick up on information that is indirectly suggested, and not directly stated in the passage. Questions of this type often contain words like ‘imply’, ‘suggest’, or ‘infer’ in the question prompt.
 It is believed that eyes evolved over a few million years during the Cambrian explosion, a rapid period of evolution. Prior to this era, there is no direct evidence of eyes. Eyes have a vast range of adaptations to meet the needs of the organism. They vary in visual acuity, the array of wavelength detected, sensitivity in low light, color discrimination and their capacity to identify motion.
Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 1 about eyes before the Cambrian Explosion?
- We can safely assume eyes existed prior to the Cambrian Explosion.
- We can safely assume eyes did not exist prior to the Cambrian Explosion.
- We can assume that prior to the Cambrian Explosion, eyes varied in visual acuity.
- Prior to the Cambrian Explosion, eyes had not ability to identify motion, color or light.
Follow these steps to tackle this type of question.
Step 1: Search for keywords and look for evidence
The keywords in the question prompt are ‘before’ and ‘the Cambrian Explosion.’ Normally, in inference questions, prepositions are important. Pay close attention to the prepositions.
You need to reread the passage to find any information that refers to ‘the Cambrian Explosion.’ In this example, the first two sentences have mentioned the term. Read these two sentences closely. Then you can move on to reading the answer choices, one by one. Every time you read an option, you need to skim back at the passage to see if the option is back up by information from the text. If an option is a correct choice, you should be able to point to the section in the text that allows you to make the inference. Again, pay close attention to the prepositions. They can be tricky in this type of question.
Step 2: Eliminate wrong answers
In our example, (A) is wrong since it is the opposite of what is stated in the first two sentences of the paragraph. The sentences say that eyes evolved during the Cambrian explosion, and there is no evidence of eyes prior to this era. (C) and (D) are also wrong. Even though visual acuity and other abilities of eyes are mentioned, in the passage, those information about abilities have no connections with the Cambrian explosion. Furthermore, from the first two sentences, we can safely infer that eyes do not exist before the Cambrian explosion, so the discussion about eyes’ abilities are irrelevant. Therefore, after eliminating all wrong choices, the correct choice is answer (B).
To answer this question, you need to understand all the concepts in the passage so from there, you can make further logical implications. However, you also need to be careful not to infer too much or too far from the text. All of your inferences need to be backed up directly by information from the passage. Let’s look at an example of this type of question.
One extra tip: avoid answer choices that contain extreme language, go for more modest answers. Answer choices with extreme words like ‘absolute’, ‘none’, ‘very’, etc… are often trick answers.
TOEFL® Reading Reference Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Reference question is the type of reading question that will take you less than twenty seconds to read both the question and all the options. However, it will also be the type of question that tricks you into confusion. You will understand clearly the question and all the choices (which do not always happen with all other question types), and you still do not know what to choose. We will show you how to effectively solve this question so you can save your precious time for other questions that require more reading.
Let’s start with an example:
In summary, the challenge for historians in understanding Sumerian civilization is that most references and information about it come from the writings of other civilizations. Even the ancient Bablyonians considered the Sumerians an old civilization by their time. Even though archaelogists are still searching for clues to unlock the history of the Sumerians, much information about these ancient people remains unknown. In conclusion, Sumer is an ancient civilization with cities at the bottom of a sea, referenced by other ancient civilizations with few tantalizing clues of their shrouded past.
The word ‘it’ in the paragraph refers to
- Babylonian civilization
- Sumerian civilization
With our proposed 4 steps, you will answer this question not only correctly but also quickly.
1) Read only a few sentences
The key to solving this question is to not read too much. As strange as it sounds, with reference questions, the more you read, the more you may be confused. You are likely to find the correct answer within the sentence you are asked about. According to the basic rules of coherence, pronouns are used to substitute for something or someone that is mentioned right before the pronouns. So in this example, you only need to read the first sentence closely. Keep in mind that you will not use any information obtained throughout the reading that is not in the sentence you read.
2) Identify the word’s function and plurality
Next step is identifying the function of the word that is asked. In this example, you need to identify the function of ‘it’ within the sentence. You need to decide whether it is a subject or an object. In this case, ‘it’ is an object pronoun. You will only pay attention to the closest object pronoun in the sentence. Besides, since ‘it’ is a singular pronoun, you know that the answer should be a singular choice as well.
3) Eliminate wrong answers
From step 2, you know that the answer will be part of previously mentioned object pronoun and singular. Looking at the four answer choices, you can now eliminate option (A) and (B). (A) is plural, and (B) has never mentioned before ‘it.’
4) Substitute answers
Finally, if you still have more than one answer, try substituting the options for ‘it’. When you substitute answer (C) ‘ information’ into the sentence, the sentence makes no sense. Therefore, the correct answer is (D).
TOEFL® Reading Vocabulary Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Vocabulary questions are often very straight forward. One or two words are underlined in the passage. The multiple choice question will ask you to choose an option that is closest in meaning to the underlined word. There are a few tips to help with a vocabulary question. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no exact way to get around this question besides having as many vocabulary memorized as possible.
Within this type of questions, they are two smaller types:
- the explanation
- the synonym
1) Explanation question
This is the easier type of vocabulary question between the two. The question will ask you to choose the option that explains the underlined word the most accurate. You have a high chance of knowing the answer if you know the underlined word in the paragraph. Let’s look at an example.
 It is believed that eyes evolved over a few million years during the Cambrian explosion, a rapid period of evolution. Prior to this era, there is no direct evidence of eyes. Eyes have a vast range of adaptations to meet the needs of the organism. They vary in visual acuity, the array of wavelength detected, sensitivity in low light, color discrimination and their capacity to identify motion.
The word ‘evolution’ in paragraph 1 is closest in meaning to:
- Change in habits and behavior
- Change in heritable traits
- Development of the human species
Step 1: Substitute
If you know what the word ‘evolution’ means, then the answer is clear. It’s (C) Change in heritable traits.
If you don’t know what the word means, you need to make an educational guess to wiggle out of this question. Your guess needs to base on the information in the passage. You have to be careful since the answer choices are usually very close to each other in meaning.
You can substitute the answer choices for the underlined word, then reread the sentence to see if the substitutions make sense with the rest of the passage. This way, you can recognize some wrong choices.
Step 2: Eliminate wrong choices
The elimination process can be difficult in this situation since the choices are close in meaning. To do the elimination process correctly, you need to make sure to always focus closely on the topic that being discussed in the passage and make no assumption.
Choice (D) is wrong since it only mentions the human species. It is easy for test takers to make the assumption connection between eyes and human species. However, that connection is never mentioned in the passage, so is the word ‘human.’ The passage uses a very general word of ‘ organism’, not ‘human.’
Choice (A) and (B) are wrong because they do not talk about physical features. The changes of the eyes the passage talks about are all physical details. Choice (A) and (B) talk about the habitual and behavioral changes instead of the physical changes. Habitual and behavioral changes are not mentioned in the passage.
With the elimination process, you can end up choosing the correct answer (answer C) without knowing the actual vocabulary in the passage.
2) Synonym question
With the synonym, you will also be asked about an underlined word in the passage. However, the option choices are not explanations of the word but other synonyms. To answer this question fast and correctly, you do not only need to know the underlined word (like in the explanation type) but also need to know all the four option choices or at least most of them.
 Charles Darwin, in On the Origin of Species, suggests that the eye evolved from "an optic nerve merely coated with pigment, and without any other mechanism" to "a moderately high stage of perfection". Darwin presented intermediate grades of evolution and made suggestions that were soon shown to be correct. Since this time, modern scientists have been putting forward work on the topic of eye evolution, suggesting that the eye developed from a vertebrate patch of photoreceptors. Current research validates the theory of Darwin.
The word ‘validates’ in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to:
Step 1: Apply the negative-neutral-positive technique
If you know the underlined word ‘validates’ as well as all four answer choices, you can tell immediately that the correct answer is (A) Confirms.
If you only know a few of the vocabulary, you still have no other choice but make an educated guess to eliminate some obvious wrong choices. You’ll count on the negative-neutral-positive technique.
First, since we can tell that validate is a verb, we temporarily substitute the word with ‘do something’ or ‘have an action.’ From the sentence containing the word ‘validates’, we’ll get a sentence saying ‘current research’ does something to ‘the theory of Darwin.’ We need to know if ‘current research’ does something positive, negative or has no effect on the ‘the theory of Darwin.’ The rest of the passage mentions Darwin a few times together with his quotes and findings in very positive way, saying Darwin’s theory is paving the way for further modern research. Therefore, we know that the correct answer needs to be a positive word. So choices (B), (C), and (D) all have negative connotations. (A) is the only one that has a more positive connotation than the other options. Therefore, it is the correct choice.
Step 2: Use word parts
Finally, if step one alone is not enough to help you, one last tip for this type of question is to use word parts. When you have no idea what any of the words mean, you can still guess the words to combine with the positive/neutral/negative tip above.
1) Connection to a known word
You can try connecting the unknown word with a word you may know before. For example: if you don’t know what ‘successful’ means but you know the word ‘succeed,’ you can guess that ‘successful’ is another part of speech with the same origin with ‘ succeed.’ When you have nothing else to base your guess on, and you can think of another word that looks “similar,” go ahead and make a bold guess.
2) Prefixes and suffixes
And if you don’t know any other relatable words to the unknown word, your last resort is to base your guess on the prefixes and suffixes. The prefixes and suffixes won’t give you the meaning of the word, yet they can at least let you know whether the connotation is positive, or negative. If the word has prefixes like anti-, non-, un-, or in-, the word is likely to have a negative connotation. If the prefixes are am-, con-, ben-, etc…, the word is likely to have a positive connotation. Creating and memorizing a list of prefixes and suffixes will help you a lot in guessing vocabulary.
TOEFL® Reading Purpose Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Purpose question asks why a detail or argument is used in the paragraph. In other words, it asks for the purpose of an idea or detail in the passage. Purpose question requires careful reading of the whole passage, not just a few details or sentences. To answer this question, you need to understand the overall purpose of the passage then figure out how the asked detail fits into the big purpose of the passage.
Charles Darwin, in On the Origin of Species, suggests that the eye evolved from "an optic nerve merely coated with pigment, and without any other mechanism" to "a moderately high stage of perfection". Darwin presented intermediate grades of evolution and made suggestions that were soon shown to be correct. Since this time, modern scientists have been putting forward work on the topic of eye evolution, suggesting that the eye developed from a vertebrate patch of photoreceptors. Current research validates the theory of Darwin.
In paragraph 2, why does the author mention Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species?
- Because Darwin’s theory and suggestions were not correct, and later researchers proved this.
- Because Darwin’s theory and suggestions were soon shown to be correct and validated by later researchers.
- Because Darwin was the first researcher of eye evolution.
- Because Darwin’s Origin of the Species is a book about the evolution of eyes.
Step 1: Understand the passage
Read the whole passage once. You don’t have to understand everything in the passage. But if you do not at least have the general idea of what the passage is about, read again more carefully. If you do understand, make sure you can answer the following questions:
- What is the main topic or theme of the passage?
- Is the passage opinionated or factual?
- If it is opinionated, is the passage positive or negative?
By answering these questions, you can start to guess whether the detail you were asked in the prompt is a neutral fact, or part of an agreement or objection to the main topic. In this example, we can see that the main topic is about how positively Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species has affected modern research on eye evolution.
Step 2: Look for linking devices
Then read the question prompt and all the answer options. Keep the answer options in mind while read or skim through the passage the second time. Pay attention to words that appear both in the passage and the answer choices. Underline those words for easier comparison in the next step. In this example, those words would be ‘correct’, ‘eye evolution’, and ‘validate’ (or ‘prove’).
Often (but not always), there will be more than one answer choice that contains one of the keywords. However, the keywords, when used in some of the answer choices, are used with the wrong context compared to the text. For example, there is the word ‘correct’ in both (A) and (B). However, in the passage, the text says Charles Darwin’s theory is correct. (A) says ‘not correct’ which is directly the opposite of the text. We can eliminate (A).
Step 3: Eliminate irrelevant answers
After eliminating wrong context answers, the next step is to eliminate irrelevant answers. Irrelevant answers will contain details that are not in the passage. For example, the passage has never mentioned of Darwin as the first researcher of eyes evolution. (C) is not our answer.
(D) is also wrong. It is a bit harder to eliminate (D) than (C) since there are details in the reading that can cause the misunderstanding. However, pay close attention to the word ‘suggest’ in sentence 1. The book only suggests some details about eye evolution. In other words, whatever the book is about suggests the idea of eye evolution. The book itself is not about eye evolution. After eliminating all the irrelevant answers, we should have one correct, and relevant answer left. The answer is (B)
TOEFL® Reading Paraphrase Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
The paraphrase question gives you a sentence in the prompt and asks you to choose the answer choice that summarizes that sentence best. This type of question can be tricky since the answer choices are similar to each other. The trick to solving this question is to understand the keywords and dynamic in the prompt sentence. Let’s look at an example.
Which sentence is most similar to the following sentence from paragraph 4?
Taking a simple van out to the beach will give you a close encounter of a frigid degree.
- The cold weather will cause problems for your van when you arrive at the beach.
- Vans are the best form of beach transportation due to their ability to handle cold weather.
- Close encounters require a newer-model van.
- Travelling by van to the coast is one way to have a close encounter in the icy temperatures.
Step 1: Analyze the sentence
It is important to understand the relationship between ideas in the sentence. Those relationships can be: general-details, cause-effect, conditional, etc…In this example, the relationship between ideas is cause and effect. The cause is taking the van to the beach, and the effect is having a close encounter of a frigid degree. From this analysis, we can start to eliminate some answer choices that do not keep the original dynamic of the sentence in the prompt. (B) and (C) are eliminated because the ideas in the two choices do not have a cause and effect relationships.
Step 2: Paraphrase and reorganize
Ideas can be presented in many different ways with different synonyms and linking words. For example, frigid degree can also mean cold weather (in answer A) and icy temperature (in answer D). Checking the sentence in the prompt and looking for the same words or synonyms in the answer choices are good ways to make sure no important information in the prompt is left out in the choices. The answers that miss out important information are wrong. In this example, both answer A and D have all the important keywords from the prompt sentence.
Step 3: Compare and contrast
As said earlier, this type of question is tricky because the correct answer is very similar to the wrong choices. However, there are still differences between the options. In this final step, you need to compare and contrast the options and choose the one that is closer in meaning to the prompt. The difference can either be subtle or big, but remember, every difference changes the meaning of the answers. You need to be able to point out the difference to choose the correct answer. (A) and (D) are very similar to each other. Their one difference is the word problems. The word problem makes (A) having a cause and negative effect relationship, which is not the same as the prompt sentence. (D) is the correct answer.
TOEFL® Reading Sentence Insertion Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Sentence insertion question asks you to place a sentence in a paragraph in the text. You never can be too careful with the choices for this question. Even when you think you know the correct answer, it is a good idea to try the sentence in all the locations before settling down. The trick for this type of question is to look for as many linking devices, terms, pronouns, and connections between the sentence and the paragraph as possible.
Examine the four █ in the selection below and indicate at which block the following sentence could be inserted into the passage:
These cultural considerations pre-empt the otherwise endangered status of the species.
█ [A] For the polar bears, Kaktovik has one great attraction: the bone pile. █ [B] Specifically, the bone pile left over from the annual hunt for Bowhead whales █ [C] The Bowhead whale is an endangered species, however the Inupiat are allowed a quota of three per year due to cultural considerations █ [D] The meat provided from the Bowhead whales provide enough food for the Inupiat to survive the winter.
Any coherence is important in this type of question. Coherence is the key to finding the connection between the sentence and the paragraph. Usually, the sentence will have some kinds of coherence to give you a clue about its location.
Step 1: Transitions
There can be a transition word at the beginning of the sentence to give you an idea about its relationship with the surrounding sentences like ‘ however’, ‘and’, ‘so’, ‘but’, ‘therefore’…If the transition words are ‘and’, ‘so’, ‘therefore’ or something along the line, the sentence before the prompt sentence will share the same ideas and opinions with the prompt sentence. If the transition words are ‘yet’, ‘but’, ‘however’, or some other contrast transition, the sentence previous to the prompt will be contradicting to the prompt sentence. Using transitions, we can start looking among the location options in the paragraph to find possible locations.
Step 2: Pronouns
Another coherence you can look for are pronouns in the prompt sentence: ‘they’, ‘these’, ‘those’, ‘this’,…You can look for what these pronouns refer to. The rest of the prompt sentence will give you hints. In this example, right after ‘these’ is ‘cultural considerations.’ It means the cultural considerations are mentioned right before the prompt sentence. In this example, we can tell the correct answer is (D).
Extra tip: General/Specific details
In other cases where the two steps alone is not enough to figure out the correct answer. An extra tip is to look for the details in the prompt sentence. In this type of question, if the prompt sentence depicts many specific details, look for sentences in the paragraph that shares the same topic with the prompt sentence but more general, and vice versa. Ideas in the paragraph are often written in a ‘general to specific’ formula. Use this rule to look for locations that the prompt sentence can fit in.
TOEFL® Reading Summary Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
The summary question is one of the two question types that are not the usual one answer multiple choice. The summary question requires you to choose three correct answers, not just one. It is also important to know that in this question, sometimes there are more than three correct answers, so you don’t just choose the correct ones, you need to choose the three best ones.
To choose the best answers, you need to read the whole text and understand it. This question type is normally one of the last questions for every text. Answering other questions, by the time you see the summary question, you already have a good understanding of the whole text. What you need to do to choose correct answers is the careful selection. Let’s look at a text for an example.
 The Sumerian civilization existed centuries before Alexander the Great conquered swathes of land around the Mediterranean and Middle East and long before the Roman Empire became known as the greatest power of ancient times. The Sumerian civilization remains an enigmatic mystery that continues to baffle historians worldwide. It was possibly the first urban civilization established in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia. Sumer itself rose on the flood plain in the lower region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, an area called the 'cradle of civilization'. The Sumerians emerged around 4000 B.C.E. and were organized together as city-states. Some of the important Sumerian city states were on land that has since been absorbed by the Persian Gulf. In fact, it is in the Persian Gulf itself that many historians believe the key to the origins of the Sumerian civilization lies.
 One of the greatest mysteries is the exact origin of the Sumerians. Many historians and archaeologists disagree on where the Sumerians' homeland was. Ancient Sumerian literature gives reference to their homeland being a place called 'Dilmun', the location of which remains obscure. The Sumerian language is an agglutinating language—one that forms words by adding affixes to the word's core meaning. Other agglutinating languages include Turkish, Hungarian, Finnish, and Inuit. However, neighbouring languages to Sumer share little of its morphology. In addition, numerous animal-deities in the Sumerian pantheon suggest a pastoral history, but do not indicate a location of origin. Historians generally conclude that Dilmun is most likely an island in the Persian Gulf, perhaps the modern country of Bahrain. Until now, no ruins have been found to link the ancient Sumerians to any island in the Persian Gulf. These types of ruins are pivotal in proving the ancestral home of the Sumerians. Therefore, without any ruins, the Sumerian homeland remains unknown.
 Sumerian culture centred around a priesthood and temple life. City-states were organized around the temple and non-priests were either craftsmen or peasants that devoted their work and lives to appeasing the gods. Disasters, droughts and calamities were blamed on a local deity being overpowered by other gods acting together. As a result, the priesthood maintained its power and control over the Sumerian day-to-day life. Finally, the other castes within Sumerian city-states were the warriors charged with defending the city. Over time, the warriors became more prestigious and powerful within Sumer as the grip of the clergy began to erode. As a consequence, Sumer gradually shifted toward a more warrior-led civilization.
 Between 4000 and 2000 B.C.E. Semitic immigrants regularly moved into Sumerian territory, slowly inundating Sumer. By 2000 B.C.E., Sumerian city-states were forced to form defensive alliances as the warriors became more powerful. The image of the priesthood was undermined as they were forced to make alliances. Moreover, the increasing importance of warriors instigated a power shift in the Sumerian civilization which led to the existence of its first King. Finally, in around 2000 B.C.E. King Sargon of Akkad conquered the Sumerians in the creation of the world's first multi-ethnic empire. The Akkadian Empire is also considered as the first civilization built upon the shared characteristics of the Sumerians. In fact, the lost Akkadian city was rumored to have been built by Sumerian craftsmen.
 In summary, the challenge for historians in understanding Sumerian civilization is that most references and information about it come from the writings of other civilizations. Even the ancient Bablyonians considered the Sumerians an old civilization by their time. Even though archaelogists are still searching for clues to unlock the history of the Sumerians, much information about these ancient people remains unknown. In conclusion, Sumer is an ancient civilization with cities at the bottom of a sea, referenced by other ancient civilizations with few tantalizing clues of their shrouded past.
Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.
The Sumerian civilization was one of the first and most developed civilizations of the ancient world, considered old even by its other contemporary civilizations.
- Alexander the Great was the first ruler to conquer Sumer.
- The Sumerian language closely reflected many of its neighboring languages.
- Sumer emerged between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers-called the ‘cradle of civilization.’
- Information about the Sumerians is hard to find as the majority of historical references come from other contemporary civilizations.
- The location of the Sumerians’ homeland, Dilmun, remains a mystery.
- The priesthood caused the downfall of the Sumerian civilization.
Step 1: Eliminate the wrong answers
This step is important, and it can be the only step needed for this type of question. Eliminate the answer options that present incorrect information or do not include correct information. In other words, you eliminate the wrong choices and the irrelevant options. Read through all the options and mark the ones that you can immediately realize that is wrong or correct. If you understand the text, after carefully reading the options, you can pick out the wrong answers and right answers. In this example, the correct answers are (C), (D), and (E). There are sentences in the text that directly support these answers. Those sentences are as following:
(C): ‘Sumer itself rose on the flood plain in the lower region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers’
(D): ‘ The challenge for historians in understanding Sumerian civilization is that most references and information about it come from the writings of other civilizations ’
(E): ‘…without any ruins, the Sumerian homeland remains unknown.’
If you can’t decide whether or not the option is correct, leave them and come back later. You can only choose three options. Choose the three best ones. Even if there are options that you are not sure about, and you find three options that you are confident that are correct already, you can go with those three answers.
Step 2: Eliminate minor details
This second step is optional. Sometimes you need this step; sometimes you don’t. In the direction section in the prompt, there is an understated point saying that the wrong answers are not only the one with incorrect information but also the one with ‘minor details in the passage.’ An option including correct information is not enough; those information needs to be important and major in the text. Eliminate options that are too detail specific. Ask yourself if you do not know all the details in that option, will the main idea of the text change? If the answer is no, then it’s an option that contains only minor details. Eliminate it and move on.
TOEFL® Reading Organization Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
Organization or categorization is one of the two types of reading questions that you need to choose more than one answer. Similar to the summary type, organization question requires you to read and understand the whole text. However, unlike the summary type, instead of choosing major ideas and themes from the text, you need to pick out and categorize minor details. There is no limit on how many answers you can choose, but remember, not all the choices will be used. If by the end, you realize you have chosen and categorized all choices, there must be a mistake. In no occasion, all choices are correct.
 A tree is a perennial plant that consists of a long stem, trunk, branches and in most species, leaves. They have evolved their structure to compete for sunlight with other plants. Trees usually live for a long time, up to thousands of years old and they have existed on the planet for 370 million years. A tree has woody tissue and is surrounded by bark that protects the plant. The root of a tree anchors it in place and the branches carry leaves that capture light and process it into sugar by photosynthesis.
 The function of trees in our environment is invaluable. They release oxygen into our atmosphere and remove carbon dioxide, storing carbon in their own tissues. Trees prevent soil erosion by soaking up water in areas with high rainfall. In tropical rainforests and various other regions of the world, trees provide a habitat for a vast number of animal and plant species. Other functions of trees are in the provision of wood for fuel, cooking, heating, construction, paper production and fruit.
 The leaves of trees are formed for photosynthesis. The broad sizes and shapes of deciduous trees attract the light to be converted to energy. Coniferous trees sometime have needles which are adapted to environments with less water, such as frozen regions with a higher latitude and altitude. The thin shape of the needles and position of evergreen branches allow the leaves to shed snow. Broad-leaved trees in temperate zones of the world shed their leaves as days get shorter in the autumn and winter seasons. This is because the leaves are no longer making new chlorophyll through photosynthesis due to less light. The red and yellow pigments of the leaves’ blades become visible, causing the bright orange, red and yellow-colored autumn leaves. The synthesis of auxin - a plant hormone – also stops. Once the production of auxin ceases, the cells at the junction of the twig and the petiole of the leaf weakens and the leaf breaks off and falls on the ground. In regions of the world with more sun exposure, trees may not shed their leaves.
 There are several other reasons that trees shed leaves and twigs. During a drought season, trees often shed about ten percent of their leaves, thus losing less water. Another reason for leaf-fall is when vigorous trees shed excessive leaves to adjust to the summer heat. Moreover, leaves near the base of the tree are more likely to drop off due to lack of sunlight. Another cause is insect-tunnelling of leaf stalks, leaving short, fragile petioles which leads to more leaf-fall. Disease, such as Dutch elm disease or root rot, or injuries to the tree, is another source of leaf-fall. Fungus, such as leaf-spot disease, also causes increased shedding of leaves. Fungi such as anthracene and apple scab defoliate crab apple trees, sycamore, ash, white oak and maple.
 Squirrel activity or twig- girdling insects can also cause clusters of fallen leaves that are attached to short twigs. There are specific tree species, such as poplars, that shed twigs during moisture stress period. The end of the twig will be like a smooth curve. The metallic wood boring beetle prefers red oak and other oak trees. They lay eggs onto twigs. Once hatched, the larvae bore into twigs in a spiral fashion until there are clusters of dead leaves. The longhorn beetle is gray-brown in color. The adult beetles appear at the end of the summer. The female beetle chews the twig, girdling it and laying eggs on it. The twig then withers and dies. The new larvae thrive in the dead twig. The behaviour of these two insects could be another explanation of excessive twig fall.
Complete the table by matching the phrases below
Directions: Select the appropriate phrases from the answer choices and match them to the tree type to which they relate. Some of the answer choices will NOT be used.
Coniferous trees Deciduous trees
- Needles are shaped upward to prevent leaf-fall
- Needles are shaped specifically to allow the shed of snow.
- Broad leaves help to cause a faster rate of photosynthesis
- Deciduous leaves become orange and red due to the increase of the hormone auxin
- Deciduous trees shed more leaves in warmer climates
- Autumn-colored trees are caused by the increase in yellow, red and orange pigments as chlorophyll drops.
I’ll give you some tips to solve this type of question. There is no logical order of steps to solve this question. You need to combine and keep these following tips in mind while choosing for correct answers.
Tip 1: Find evidence
There will normally be two or three columns with different title heads. They are the different categories. You need to make sure you understand all the categories thoroughly in order to choose correct answers.
Every correct answer needs to be backed up directly by evidence from the text. Skim through all the choices then read them again carefully one by one. After reading each one, look back at the text to look for evidence. If you find evidence that you are confident about, choose that options immediately. You’ll have time to check through them again by the end. Don’t wait till you read through everything since you may be confused about all the choices you have. Deal with them one by one.
Tip 2: Eliminate incorrect information
This seems like an obvious tip: eliminating the options with incorrect information. The point of this tip is that you eliminate the options as soon as you know it’s wrong. This question is one of the last questions for every reading. By the time you reach this question, you have already known much about the reading. If you think an answer is correct, you still should check the text for evidence. However, if you think an option is wrong, you can eliminate it without re-checking the text. Checking wrong answer takes more time than looking for evidence to back up right answers because you have to read through the whole text to make sure there is no evidence to support that choice.
The answers to this question is (B) and (C) in the coniferous trees section, and (F) is in the Deciduous trees section. There are sentences in the text that directly support the options.
(B): ‘The thin shape of the needles and position of evergreen branches allow the leaves to shed snow’ (from Paragraph 3, lines 5 and 6)
(C): ‘ Broad-leaved trees in temperate zones of the world shed their leaves as days get shorter in the autumn and winter seasons. This is because the leaves are no longer making new chlorophyll through photosynthesis due to less light ’ (from Paragraph 3, lines 6 to 8)
(F): ‘The red and yellow pigments of the leaves’ blades become visible, causing the bright orange, red and yellow-colored autumn leaves.’ (from paragraph 3, lines 8 to 10)
TOEFL® Reading Negative Factual Question Type - How to Answer Correctly
The negative factual question is the only type of question that asks you to choose the incorrect answer. The key to this answer is the word ‘except’ that is in all CAPS at the end of every question. This question will have four answer choices like all other multiple choice questions in the TOEFL. However, there will be three correct answers and one incorrect answer, and you need to choose the incorrect one. This question may not be difficult, yet it can be very confusing. Let’s look at an example to understand this question further.
 Frogs are known as one of the most diverse scientific order of vertebrate species in the world. Nevertheless, they are often overlooked by humans. In fact, these carnivorous amphibians date back in fossil record to the early Triassic period in Madagascar. However, molecular dating suggests they may even date back to the Permian period over 265 million years ago. As a result, their ancient pedigree contributes to the fact that frogs can be found all over the planet—even in subarctic climates. In spite of this range of inhabitation, the majority of frog species are found in tropical rainforests where they enjoy the greatest diversity. In short, frogs are composed of a unique anatomy and have prolific reproduction habits leading to a broad population.
 The scientific order of Anura consists entirely of a different species of frogs. Frogs share numerous characteristics across species. They have a stout body, large protruding eyes, cleft tongues, folded limbs and no tail. Moreover, one of the more intriguing characteristics of frogs is their skin. Frogs have glandular skin which can secrete liquids and mucus. Because of these secretions a frog can simply cause its skin to taste particularly foul to a predator, or they can be highly toxic even to touch and ingest. The skin itself has a broad palette of colours. Similar to snakes, the skin colours and patterns of frogs are intended either to disguise or to ward off would-be predators. Some species have evolved colours to camouflage into their habitat and avoid predators. Conversely, other species have developed bright, vivid colours to advertise their toxicity to any hungry predators. The skin is semi permeable, which means frogs are vulnerable to severe dehydration in dry environments. This leads to their preference for tropical, damp and humid habitats.
 As a result of being an amphibious species, certain frogs choose different environments to lay their eggs. For example, a minority group of frog species will actually lay their eggs on land; however, the vast majorities choose to lay their eggs in water where they will hatch into tadpoles. Tadpoles are an aquatic larvae complete with tails – which disappear later - and internal gills. As tadpoles’ natural habitat is ponds and streams, they have a diet of planktivorous and herbivorous foods. As tadpoles mature into adults, their bodies develop characteristic features of frogs and consequently, they adopt a much more carnivorous diet. In addition, adult frogs are one of the more efficient converters of food into body mass. The importance of this characteristic is that frogs are an integral part of almost any ecosystem they belong to as a key nutritional source for predators. Although they are diminutive in size, they have a large impact on the dynamics of ecosystems.
 Frogs, like many other species, have specific breeding seasons that can trigger hormone-dependent sexual characteristics. In addition to an arsenal of vocal cords to attract mates, male frogs develop special pads on their thumbs to provide a firmer grip while mating with a female. This firm grip stimulates the female, and as a result they will release eggs to be fertilized. Sperm is ejected directly from the cloaca directly onto the eggs, typically wrapped in jelly, as the female lays them. The sexual organs -testes and ovaries - are attached to frogs’ kidneys, due to their small-sized anatomy. Fertilized eggs will later develop into tadpoles.
 Frogs are not only valued by humans for food, but also for their roles in literature, symbolism and religion among various cultures around the world. However, the global frog population has been in decline since the 1950s. Since the 1980s, more than 120 species have become extinct. Moreover, a third of the frog species is threatened by extinction. A major problem for the global frog population is a fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis. This emerging disease is a mystery to conservation biologists and threatens frogs around the world. The frog population may continue to decline if a solution is not found to combat this disease. Frogs are now a key focus for the conservation movement and biologists as they face many new challenges in a changing ecosystem.
According to paragraph 3, all of the following are reasons why frogs have a large impact on the dynamics of ecosystems EXCEPT
- Frogs can covert food into body mass efficiently
- Frogs have a carnivorous diet
- Frogs are the key nutritional sources for predators
- Frogs prefer to lay their eggs in water
Step 1: Read the question and the question choices
This question requires patience and carefulness. With other questions, sometimes you can read the first choice, realize it is the right one and choose it immediately. Never use that tactic with this type of question. From the example, you can see, this question asks you to choose the option that is incorrect. There is only one right answer to every question but there are three correct options, and you should not choose any of those correct options. The right answer to this question would be the only incorrect one. So you need to read the question carefully and thoroughly: both the question and all the answer options. Make sure you understand and can identify the information in as many answer options as you can. The options you need to eliminate are not only the ones that are mentioned in the passage but also answer the question asked correctly.
Step 2: Check off from the list
The right answer for this question will normally an option is contradictorily wrong with what the article states or not mentioned in the passage. So when reading through the question, if you can pick out the option that from the reading, you immediately know is correct, cross that one out. It will help you save time. If you can’t clear off all the correct options just from your knowledge, you need to look back into the passage to find direct proofs. If you don’t know for sure, do not assume anything is correct unless you can find direct proofs from the passage to support the info. Furthermore, the options you need to eliminate do not only need to be supported by the passage but also need to answer the question correctly. This is an important point that people often overlook. Remember to read the question carefully.
Some questions do not specify where in the passage you can find the information to answer the question. In that case, you need to read the whole passage to find information. However, that is not always the case. It is more likely that the question will specify what paragraph or what section you can look to find the answer. In this example, you can look into paragraph 3 to find the information you need. (A), (B) and (C) options are stated in the paragraph. Sentences that provide direct proofs to prove (A), (B), and (C) are mentioned in the text are as follows:
- : adult frogs are one of the more efficient converters of food into body mass.
- : they adopt a much more carnivorous diet.
- : they belong to as a key nutritional source for predators.
You can eliminate (A), (B) and (C).
Step 3: Double check before final decision
Finally, even after you already eliminate all the three options that are mentioned in the passage, you should skim through the passage one last time to make sure the option you are about to choose is not mentioned anywhere in the article. Sometimes, the right answer to this question can be the option that has information contradict with what the passage mentions, which means the option can contain a topic that is mentioned in the paragraph but with a contradict opinion. So when reading and skimming through the passage, be careful not to be tricked by keywords. Some words in the option can be mentioned in the passage, but that does not mean the option itself is mentioned in the passage. If you see keywords that appear in both the option choice and the passage, read the sentence that contains the keyword carefully to make sure whether or not that sentence support the option choice and not answer the question correctly as well.
In this example, the correct answer is (D). (D) is correct because frogs’ preference to lay eggs in water does not have any effects on the dynamics of the ecosystem. So (D) is the answer you need to choose not because it is not mentioned but because it does not directly answer the question asked.