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TOEFL Reading Practice: Take a Free TOEFL Reading Test with Answers & Learn About the 10 Reading Question Types

In this guide you will find a free TOEFL reading test with answers, a lot of TOEFL reading practice questions, and information on the 10 different reading question types to help you prepare successfully for your TOEFL reading test. This page contains everything you need to know and the essential skills for a high reading score.

First off, if you're looking to take a free TOEFL reading practice test or are just curious what taking an official TOEFL reading test is like, then click the START TOEFL reading SAMPLE TEST button below.

play_circle_outline Start TOEFL reading Sample Test

If you want to practice TOEFL reading questions on the go and don't have an internet connection, then BestMyTest's free TOEFL reading practice test PDF download will come in handy. It includes a complete TOEFL reading passage with questions and answers.

Next up is a list of all our TOEFL reading questions where you can study each question at your own pace. To start a free TOEFL reading test question, click the Mock Test 1 link.

TOEFL reading practice questions

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TOEFL Reading Introduction

The reading section is the first section of the TOEFL iBT test. It tests your ability to read and answer questions at an academic level. It contain 3-4 passages with each passage containing 12-14 questions for a total of 36-56 questions. Each passage is generally 600 to 700 words long. You'll have 60-80 minutes in which to finish this section.

When you are taking the reading test, you can skip answers and come back to them later. You can come back and change your answers at any time during the reading testing period.

Reading Difficulty Level

The TOEFL reading difficulty level is equivalent to an introductory undergraduate university textbook. Most of the passages' context is North American, but you may also see some international contexts from United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The passages cover a wide range of topics such as

  • Social science including anthropology, economics, psychology, urban studies, and sociology
  • Science and technology including astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology, physics, engineering
  • History, government, biography, geography, and culture
  • Art including literature, painting, sculpture, drama, and architecture

Even though the reading passages can be difficult to understand, you don't necessarily have to understand it all. By learning the strategies to answer each reading question type, you can get a high TOEFL score without fully understanding the reading passage. The first thing you need to learn are the different types of TOEFL reading question types.

The 10 TOEFL Reading Question Types

The TOEFL reading questions can be broken down into 10 different reading question types:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Reference
  3. Inference
  4. Purpose
  5. Negative Factual Information
  6. Essential Information
  7. Detail
  8. Sentence Insertion
  9. Complete the Summary
  10. Complete the Table

Our comprehensive lessons will tackle each of these question types in detail. To view them, create a free account and start your 7 day free trial.

Below you will find 12 TOEFL reading sample questions.

Detail Question
1. According to paragraph 1, which of the following is true of the Late Cretaceous climate?
  1. Summers were very warm and winters were very cold.
  2. Shallow seas on the continents caused frequent temperature changes.
  3. The climate was very similar to today’s climate.
  4. The climate did not change dramatically from season to season.
2. Which of the following reasons is suggested in paragraph 2 for the extinction of the dinosaurs?
  1. Changes in the lengths of the days and nights during the Late Cretaceous period
  2. Droughts caused by the movement of seaways back into the ocean
  3. The change from mild to severe climates during the Late Cretaceous period
  4. An extreme decrease in the average yearly temperature over 10,000 years

Detail Question
Quesiton 1 and Question 2 are detail questions. Detail questions ask you about information that’s specifically stated in a small part of the passage. They generally focus on the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” as explained by the author.
  • spellcheck Answers
    1. D
    2. C
[1] Paleontologists have argued for a long time that the demise of the dinosaurs was caused by climatic alterations associated with slow changes in the positions of continents and seas resulting from plate tectonics. Off and on throughout the Cretaceous (the last period of the Mesozoic era, during which dinosaurs flourished), large shallow seas covered extensive areas of the continents. Data from diverse sources, including geochemical evidence preserved in seafloor sediments, indicate that the Late Cretaceous climate was milder than today’s. The days were not too hot, nor the nights too cold. The summers were not too warm, nor the winters too frigid. The shallow seas on the continents probably buffered the temperature of the nearby air, keeping it relatively constant.

[2] At the end of the Cretaceous, the geological record shows that these seaways retreated from the continents back into the major ocean basins. No one knows why. Over a period of about 100,000 years, while the seas pulled back, climates around the world became dramatically more extreme: warmer days, cooler nights; hotter summers, colder winters. Perhaps dinosaurs could not tolerate these extreme temperature changes and became extinct.

Purpose Question
3. Why does the author mention the survival of “snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles” in paragraph 3?
  1. To argue that dinosaurs may have become extinct because they were not cold-blooded animals
  2. To question the adequacy of the hypothesis that climatic change related to sea levels caused the extinction of the dinosaurs
  3. To present examples of animals that could maintain a livable body temperature more easily than dinosaurs
  4. To support a hypothesis that these animals were not as sensitive to climate changes in the Cretaceous period as they are today

Purpose Question
Purpose questions require you to understand why the author has included pieces of information. The answer is not directly stated in the reading passage. To solve this type of question, you need to understand the main point of the paragraph and how the referenced information is related to the main point of the paragraph. You will see the question phrased something like the following: Why does the author mention XXX in paragraph 2? Here is an example.
  • spellcheck Answer
    3. B
[3] If true, though, why did cold-blooded animals such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles survive the freezing winters and torrid summers? These animals are at the mercy of the climate to maintain a livable body temperature. It’s hard to understand why they would not be affected, whereas dinosaurs were left too crippled to cope, especially if, as some scientists believe, dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Critics also point out that the shallow seaways had retreated from and advanced on the continents numerous times during the Mesozoic, so why did the dinosaurs survive the climatic changes associated with the earlier fluctuations but not with this one? Although initially appealing, the hypothesis of a simple climatic change related to sea levels is insufficient to explain all the data.

Vocabulary Question
4. The word “cope” in the passage is closest in meaning to?
  1. adapt
  2. move
  3. continue
  4. compete
5. The word “fluctuations” in the passage is closest in meaning to?
  1. extreme
  2. retreats
  3. periods
  4. variations

Vocabulary Question
Question 4 and 5 are vocabulary questions. In a "Vocabulary question", you are asked what a word or phrase is closest in meaning to and are given 4 answer options. You need to be able to understand the meaning of the word as it is used in the passage.
  • spellcheck Answers
    4. A
    5. D
[3] If true, though, why did cold-blooded animals such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles survive the freezing winters and torrid summers? These animals are at the mercy of the climate to maintain a livable body temperature. It’s hard to understand why they would not be affected, whereas dinosaurs were left too crippled to cope, especially if, as some scientists believe, dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Critics also point out that the shallow seaways had retreated from and advanced on the continents numerous times during the Mesozoic, so why did the dinosaurs survive the climatic changes associated with the earlier fluctuations but not with this one? Although initially appealing, the hypothesis of a simple climatic change related to sea levels is insufficient to explain all the data.

Essential Information Question
6. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in paragraph 4? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
  1. The fossil record suggests that there was an abrupt extinction of many plants and animals at the end of the Mesozoic era.
  2. Few fossils of the Mesozoic era have survived in the rocks that mark the end of the Cretaceous.
  3. Fossils from the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic up to the beginning of the Cenozoic era have been removed from the layers of rock that surrounded them.
  4. Plants and animals from the Mesozoic era were unable to survive in the Cenozoic era.

Essential Information Question
In an “Essential Information question”, you will see the question you see an entire sentence highlighted in the reading passage. The question will ask you to choose which of the 4 answer option sentences is equal to the highlighted sentence. The correct sentence will be paragraphed so it is different than the highlighted one, but still convey all the important information. Incorrect sentences will represent a detail or concept inaccurately, leave out an important detail, change the original meaning of the sentence
  • spellcheck Answer
    6. A
[4] Dissatisfaction with conventional explanations for dinosaur extinctions led to a surprising observation that, in turn, has suggested a new hypothesis. Many plants and animals disappear abruptly from the fossil record as one moves from layers of rock documenting the end of the Cretaceous up into rocks representing the beginning of the Cenozoic (the era after the Mesozoic). Between the last layer of Cretaceous rock and the first layer of Cenozoic rock, there is often a thin layer of clay. Scientists felt that they could get an idea of how long the extinctions took by determining how long it took to deposit this one centimeter of clay and they thought they could determine the time it took to deposit the clay by determining the amount of the element iridium (Ir) it contained.

Negative Factual Information Question
7. In paragraph 4, all the following questions are answered EXCEPT:
  1. Why is there a layer of clay between the rocks of the Cretaceous and Cenozoic?
  2. Why were scientists interested in determining how long it took to deposit the layer of clay at the end of the Cretaceous?
  3. What was the effect of the surprising observation scientists made?
  4. Why did scientists want more information about the dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous?

Negative Factual Information Question
You can recognize a negative factual information question by either the word “NOT” or “EXCEPT” in the question. The question can appear like the following: According to the passage, which of the following is NOT true of X?.
  • spellcheck Answer
    7. A
[4] Dissatisfaction with conventional explanations for dinosaur extinctions led to a surprising observation that, in turn, has suggested a new hypothesis. Many plants and animals disappear abruptly from the fossil record as one moves from layers of rock documenting the end of the Cretaceous up into rocks representing the beginning of the Cenozoic (the era after the Mesozoic). Between the last layer of Cretaceous rock and the first layer of Cenozoic rock, there is often a thin layer of clay. Scientists felt that they could get an idea of how long the extinctions took by determining how long it took to deposit this one centimeter of clay and they thought they could determine the time it took to deposit the clay by determining the amount of the element iridium (Ir) it contained.

Inference Question
8. Paragraph 5 implies that a special explanation of the Ir in the boundary clay is needed because
  1. the Ir in microscopic meteorites reaching Earth during the Cretaceous period would have been incorporated into Earth’s core
  2. the Ir in the boundary clay was deposited much more than a million years ago
  3. the concentration of Ir in the boundary clay is higher than in microscopic meteorites
  4. the amount of Ir in the boundary clay is too great to have come from microscopic meteorites during the time the boundary clay was deposited

Inference Question
In an "Inference" question, you will see the question phrased something like the following: In paragraph 5, what does the author imply about ….? or What can be inferred from paragraph 5? In this type of question, the answer is not directly stated in the reading passage. It requires you to draw conclusions based on information that is given in the passage. You need to find out the correct conclusion from the choices.
  • spellcheck Answer
    8. D
[5] Ir has not been common at Earth’s surface since the very beginning of the planet’s history. Because it usually exists in a metallic state, it was preferentially incorporated in Earth’s core as the planet cooled and consolidated. Ir is found in high concentrations in some meteorites, in which the solar system’s original chemical composition is preserved. Even today, microscopic meteorites continually bombard Earth, falling on both land and sea. By measuring how many of these meteorites fall to Earth over a given period of time, scientists can estimate how long it might have taken to deposit the observed amount of Ir in the boundary clay. (A) These calculations suggest that a period of about one million years would have been required. (B) However, other reliable evidence suggests that the deposition of the boundary clay could not have taken one million years. (C) So the unusually high concentration of Ir seems to require a special explanation. (D)

Sentence Insertion Question
9. In paragraph 5 of the passage, there is a missing sentence. The paragraph is repeated below and shows four letters (A, B, C, and D) that indicate where the following sentence could be added.

Consequently, the idea that the Ir in the boundary clay came from microscopic meteorites cannot be accepted.

Where would the sentence best fit?
  • (A)
  • (B)
  • (C)
  • (D)

Sentence Insertion Question
In a "Sentence Insertion" question, you will be asked to decide where a new sentence best fits into the reading passage. This question type tests your understanding of the logic in the passage. It also tests your ability to understand the grammatical connections from one sentence to another.
  • spellcheck Answer
    9. C
[5] Ir has not been common at Earth’s surface since the very beginning of the planet’s history. Because it usually exists in a metallic state, it was preferentially incorporated in Earth’s core as the planet cooled and consolidated. Ir is found in high concentrations in some meteorites, in which the solar system’s original chemical composition is preserved. Even today, microscopic meteorites continually bombard Earth, falling on both land and sea. By measuring how many of these meteorites fall to Earth over a given period of time, scientists can estimate how long it might have taken to deposit the observed amount of Ir in the boundary clay. (A) These calculations suggest that a period of about one million years would have been required. (B) However, other reliable evidence suggests that the deposition of the boundary clay could not have taken one million years. (C) So the unusually high concentration of Ir seems to require a special explanation. (D)

Complete the Summary Question
14. 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.

Drag your answer choices to the spaces where they belong. To remove an answer choice, drag it back.

For a long time scientists have argued that the extinction of the dinosaurs was related to climate change.

  1. Extreme changes in daily and seasonal climates preceded the retreat of the seas back into the major ocean basins.
  2. A simple climate change does not explain some important data related to the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.
  3. The retreat of the seaways at the end of the Cretaceous has not been fully explained.
  4. The abruptness of extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous and the high concentration of Ir found in clay deposited at that time have fueled the development of a new hypothesis.
  5. Some scientists hypothesize that the extinction of the dinosaurs resulted from the effects of an asteroid collision with Earth.
  6. Boundary clay layers like the one between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic are used by scientists to determine the rate at which an extinct species declined.

Complete the Summary Question
In a ‘Complete the Summary’ question, you are given a summary statement of the reading passage and 6 answer options. You need to drag and drop 3 answers that represent major ideas or contain important information from the passage.

You need to drag and drop them from the bottom area of your computer screen into a blank area above with 3 positions marked off . The 3 correct options will NOT have the exact wording of any sentence in the passage. The other 3 will have errors in detail, or state an unimportant concept. This question always has a value of 2 points. You will get 1 point if you get 2 out of 3 correct.
  • spellcheck Answer
    14. b,d,e
[1] Paleontologists have argued for a long time that the demise of the dinosaurs was caused by climatic alterations associated with slow changes in the positions of continents and seas resulting from plate tectonics. Off and on throughout the Cretaceous (the last period of the Mesozoic era, during which dinosaurs flourished), large shallow seas covered extensive areas of the continents. Data from diverse sources, including geochemical evidence preserved in seafloor sediments, indicate that the Late Cretaceous climate was milder than today’s. The days were not too hot, nor the nights too cold. The summers were not too warm, nor the winters too frigid. The shallow seas on the continents probably buffered the temperature of the nearby air, keeping it relatively constant.

[2] At the end of the Cretaceous, the geological record shows that these seaways retreated from the continents back into the major ocean basins. No one knows why. Over a period of about 100,000 years, while the seas pulled back, climates around the world became dramatically more extreme: warmer days, cooler nights; hotter summers, colder winters. Perhaps dinosaurs could not tolerate these extreme temperature changes and became extinct.

[3] If true, though, why did cold-blooded animals such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles survive the freezing winters and torrid summers? These animals are at the mercy of the climate to maintain a livable body temperature. It’s hard to understand why they would not be affected, whereas dinosaurs were left too crippled to cope, especially if, as some scientists believe, dinosaurs were warm-blooded. Critics also point out that the shallow seaways had retreated from and advanced on the continents numerous times during the Mesozoic, so why did the dinosaurs survive the climatic changes associated with the earlier fluctuations but not with this one? Although initially appealing, the hypothesis of a simple climatic change related to sea levels is insufficient to explain all the data.

[4] Dissatisfaction with conventional explanations for dinosaur extinctions led to a surprising observation that, in turn, has suggested a new hypothesis. Many plants and animals disappear abruptly from the fossil record as one moves from layers of rock documenting the end of the Cretaceous up into rocks representing the beginning of the Cenozoic (the era after the Mesozoic). Between the last layer of Cretaceous rock and the first layer of Cenozoic rock, there is often a thin layer of clay. Scientists felt that they could get an idea of how long the extinctions took by determining how long it took to deposit this one centimeter of clay and they thought they could determine the time it took to deposit the clay by determining the amount of the element iridium (Ir) it contained.

[5] Ir has not been common at Earth’s surface since the very beginning of the planet’s history. Because it usually exists in a metallic state, it was preferentially incorporated in Earth’s core as the planet cooled and consolidated. Ir is found in high concentrations in some meteorites, in which the solar system’s original chemical composition is preserved. Even today, microscopic meteorites continually bombard Earth, falling on both land and sea. By measuring how many of these meteorites fall to Earth over a given period of time, scientists can estimate how long it might have taken to deposit the observed amount of Ir in the boundary clay. (A) These calculations suggest that a period of about one million years would have been required. (B) However, other reliable evidence suggests that the deposition of the boundary clay could not have taken one million years. (C) So the unusually high concentration of Ir seems to require a special explanation. (D)

[6] In view of these facts, scientists hypothesized that a single large asteroid, about 10 to 15 kilometers across, collided with Earth, and the resulting fallout created the boundary clay. Their calculations show that the impact kicked up a dust cloud that cut off sunlight for several months, inhibiting photosynthesis in plants; decreased surface temperatures on continents to below freezing; caused extreme episodes of acid rain; and significantly raised long-term global temperatures through the greenhouse effect. This disruption of food chain and climate would have eradicated the dinosaurs and other organisms in less than fifty years.

Reference Question
1. The word 'those' in paragraph 1 refers to:
  • gene pool
  • survival
  • natural selection
  • traits characteristics

Reference Question
In a "Reference" question, you are asked what the highlighted word refers to. If it's a pronoun then you need to identify what word the pronoun is replacing.
  • spellcheck Answer
    1. D
[1] Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is known as one of the most important and controversial scientific theories ever published. 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.

Complete the Table Question
14. Complete the table by matching the phrases below

Directions: Select the appropriate phrases from the answer choices and match them to the Radiocarbon Dating and Faunal Analysis to which they relate. Some of the answer choices will NOT be used. This question is worth 4 points.

Drag your answer choices to the spaces where they belong. To remove an answer choice, drag it back. To review the passage, click VIEW TEXT.

Faunal Analysis in Cuba and California Radiocarbon dating in Two Creeks Fossil Forest

  1. Tar and benzene are used in the analytical process.
  2. This analytical method has determined when the Pleistocene epoch ended.
  3. Initial estimates were made by comparing with similar occurrences in Scandinavia.
  4. Over 70 tests were done on fossil samples.
  5. Radiocarbon dating tracked the fossils to 13,370 years before present.
  6. Successful radiocarbon dating of the forest samples proves the end of glaciations in North America.

Complete the Table Question
In a “Complete a table” question, you will see 2 or 3 categories in an empty table. From the options provided, you must select which ones correctly belong to each category. There will also be 2 options that won't be used. There will either be 5 or 7 correct options depending on the question.

This question has a value of 3 or 4 points. Questions with 5 correct options are worth 3 points, and ones with 7 are worth 4 points. You get 1 point if you get 3/5 or 4/7 correct. You get 2 points if get 4/5 or 5/7 correct. You get 3 points if you get 5/5 or 6/7 correct

This question tests your ability to organize major ideas of the reading passage and important information. It also tests your understandings of cause-effect relationships and compare and contrast relationships.
  • spellcheck Answer
    14. a|b,c,e
[1] The method of Radiocarbon dating was invented in the late 1940s by Willard Libby. It is a method to determine the age of an object by using radiocarbon properties. Radiocarbon is created in the atmosphere through the interaction of nitrogen and cosmic rays. When combined with oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced. CO2 enters plants through photosynthesis; animals and humans incorporate carbon when they eat plants. After the death of a plant or animal, the rate of carbon begins to decline – this is called the radioactive decay of carbon. When analysts measure the amount of carbon in this decayed object, they can calculate when it died. The furthest date that has been reliably measured back to is around 50,000 years.

[2] Research into the proportion of carbon in the atmosphere has been going on for more than five decades. Due to the increase in the burning of fossil fuels and nuclear testing in the 20th century, there was a significant increase in the level of carbon in our atmosphere, so this adds to the complication of carbon calculation. Originally, scientists used samples of solid carbon for testing. However, they realized that converting the samples to liquid or gas offered more precise results. Accelerator mass spectrometry is the current method of analysis. All carbon atoms in the sample are counted; its results are fast and very accurate.

[3] Archaeology has been profoundly affected by progress in radiocarbon dating. Faunal analysis has also been impacted by progress in this area. Faunal analysis is the study of the remains of animals with the aim to help us understand human activities in the past.

[4] At the end of the Pleistocene Era, there were many rapid extinction of megafauna, particularly in the Americas. There is a notable report by Vartanyan et al. on the extinction of pygmy mammoths, dating them back to 3700 years before present using radiocarbon dating. Other scientists have used this method to calculate the age of the extinct species in the La Brea tar pits in California. In their faunal analysis, they employed a pre-treatment method that included the use of tar. They collected bones, divided them into small pieces and chips and crushed them. The bone fragments were treated with a variety of solvents, including benzene, to examine a species of Cuban Caribbean ground sloth and the Xenarthra armadillo. Carbon was then examined and radiocarbon dates were obtained from the organic material separated from the tar. Scientists were able to date the sloth remains to around 5400 before present. This information is important as it may show that the extinction of the sloth was caused by human arrival in Cuba.

[5] Much work is necessary to further investigate the abundant fossil materials found in Central and South American pits, including those of Talara, Peru, where there are a lot of remains of extinct megafauna and human artefacts. Ongoing studies of these sites can help to verify the theories of extinction and the impact on human behaviour.

[6] One notable achievement in radio carbon dating is Two Creeks Fossil Forest. During the 20th century, a goal of geologists was to establish the date of transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene era. The Pleistocene epoch began 2.6 million years ago and the current, Holocene period began 11,700 years ago. In Wisconsin, USA, a fossil forest called Two Creeks was discovered. Prior to radiocarbon dating, the trees in this forest had been dated back to around 24,000 years ago, the estimated date for the end of the Pleistocene period. This estimate had been made through correlation with sequences in Scandinavia. Libby and later scientists investigated Two Creeks and used radiocarbon dating to date the trees more accurately. Samples from the fossil forest were used in tests in over 70 labs, dating the trees back to 13,730 before present. This achievement is now considered a notable result in the development of our understanding of glaciation in North America and the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

How to Prepare for the TOEFL Reading Test

Most students fail on the TOEFL Reading test because of either of the following two reasons

  1. Slow reading speed
  2. Poor reading strategies
Improving your reading speed

For you to improve your 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. Here is our article on "How to Read Faster By Breaking Down Long Sentences". By following tips and strategies on this article, you will know how to read faster and boost your TOEFL reading score.). Alternatively, you can watch the following 3 videos on how to break down long sentences.

TOEFL Reading Lesson - Breaking down long sentences Part 1 - General breakdown
TOEFL Reading Lesson - Breaking down long sentences Part 2 - Turning long sentences into short ones
TOEFL Reading Lesson - Breaking down long sentences Part 3 - Grammar points

Another disadvantage to having a slow reading speed is it 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.

Implementing successful 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.

Let's do the math on the following scenario:

  • 3 passages
  • 42 questions
  • 60 minutes

Let's say it takes you around 10 minutes to read each passage meaning you've spent 30 minutes of your 60 minute allotted time frame reading. So now you only have 30 minutes to answer 42 questions.

Now if you do the math that only leaves you with an average 42 seconds to answer each question. (Let's see...42s x 42q = about 1764secs Now divide that be 60secs and we get about 30 minutes. Yep that math adds up. )

So the only way to increase the overall average time to answer each question, is to reduce the amount of time you spend reading each passage...or maybe you don't read the entire passage at all...maybe you just skim the passage in less than 3 minutes to get the gist of it. By doing that you would leave yourself with double the average time per question around 1 minute and 20 seconds.

That's right! We are suggesting you DON'T read the entire passage, at least not at first. Let's have a look at the step by step guide to this strategy.

  1. Read the the first sentence of every paragraph.
    First, read the first sentence of every paragraph, so you get a basic idea of what the whole reading passage is about. You don't want to read the whole passage before you start answering the questions. That will be inefficient. Many students make this mistake and find themselves running out of time.
  2. The questions first approach Start reading question 1. Remember to only read the question and not the answer choices; Reading the answer choices is a waste of your time and energy. It will not help you. Once you understand the question, start reading the corresponding passage from the beginning in search of the answer. Once you answer question 1, go onto question 2 repeating the steps you took to answer question 1. Do this for every single question. The TOEFL questions proceed in chronological order, so the answer to question 1 is in the beginning of the passage and the answer to question 12 is towards the end.
  3. Don't get stuck! We've discussed this before, but it's so important, we will discuss it again. If you find yourself spending too much time on a question, you must skip it and move on to the next question. Finish all the questions you know, then go back and finish the tougher questions. The absolute worst thing you can do is get stuck for several minutes on a question worth only 1 point. (Want to test this strategy out now? Take a free reading mock test.)
3-Step Study System for TOEFL Reading

Now you should have a good understanding of the reading section's test structure and have experience answering reading questions using the reading timing strategy. It is time to start your TOEFL reading preparation. Below is our 3 step system for preparing for the TOEFL reading section.

Step 1: Complete all TOEFL reading lessons
Step 1 may seem obvious, but it is necessary. You need to complete all our TOEFL reading lessons available to you. Specifically, the reading timing strategy and techniques found throughout the reading lessons. These techniques will help you answer questions faster to give you more time to think and decrease stress levels. Stress can lead to poor performance, so it's important you go into your test prepared and confident.

Step 2: Practice, practice, practice!
For step 2, you will practice and apply the techniques you learned using our TOEFL reading practices. You will find all our reading practices in our Question Bank: Click here to go there now. You can also utilize our TOEFL simulation test software to help improve things like time and stress management during the TOEFL test. Our test simulation software looks and feels identical to an actual TOEFL test. We offer 4 reserved TOEFL simulated tests and another 15 non-reserved practice tests. Reserved tests use questions that are not found in the question bank.

Every time you complete a practice, our TOEFL instructor software will track and record your score and determine what your strengths and weaknesses are in each TOEFL section. It will also offer a study schedule based on what you need the most help on.

Step 3: Learning by reviewing
Step 3 is the most important step. You will need to spend a lot of time on step 3 in order to improve. There is no secret to success. You must work hard. Follow the list below to complete step 3:

  1. Review and redo all questions you got wrong, making sure you understand why you got it wrong.

    Having trouble understanding why you got a question wrong?

    Ask one of our TOEFL instructors for help using our Ask an Instructor feature included with every subscription.

    Our Ask an Instructor feature gives you an opportunity to communicate with our TOEFL instructors. You can ask them anything regarding TOEFL and English.

    To ask a question, simply click the button found on every question in the question bank. Our instructors will answer your question within 1 - 3 business days.
  2. Reread paragraphs until you understand what the passage is about.
  3. Write down any words that you do not understand and learn what they mean.
  4. Study and pay attention to transition words to help you learn to identify and create relationships between sentences.
  5. If you find yourself struggling with a particular academic category, then go through and learn our list of vocabulary for that particular category. If you can, get some cue cards and study them everyday. Later, come back to the question and you will find you are no longer struggling with it!

Our TOEFL Reading Practice Questions

Our TOEFL reading practice questions were designed to look and feel identical to the official TOEFL test. We made sure everything was the same including difficulty, formatting, and even how the test functions. If you're curious about the amount of TOEFL reading practices we have, then open the reading question menu and see for yourself. Please note we offer 4 simulated TOEFL tests with never before seen questions. This means that in addition to our mock reading practices there are an additional 12 waiting for you in the form of a simulated TOEFL test. You just have to go to our TOEFL Practice Test section. However, you'll need a premium account to access those tests.

The TOEFL Reading section is the easiest section to prepare for. We believe that once you can master the reading strategies mentioned earlier in this article and complete all available TOEFL reading practices before your TOEFL exam, you will get a high score on the TOEFL reading section.

If you need help with vocabulary to improve your reading speed, you can use our vocabulary system which includes:

  1. TOEFL Vocabulary Lists (There is a mini-lesson for each vocabulary that teaches you how to use the word correctly.)
  2. TOEFL Vocabulary Flashcards (Keep track of which words you know and which you don't)
  3. TOEFL Vocabulary Exercises (Interactive exercises that speeds up learning)
What's next

Sign up for a 7 day free trial to access the following basic TOEFL reading lessons and start your TOEFL preparation.

  • TOEFL Reading Introduction
  • TOEFL Reading Strategies for Success
  • Vocabulary Question
  • Reference Question
  • Inference Question
  • Essential Information Question
  • Sentence Insertion Question
  • Purpose Question
  • Detail Question
  • Negative Factual Information Question
  • Complete The Summary Question
  • Complete The Table Question
TOEFL Preparation
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