72 TOEFL ® Reading Prep Questions

Start preparing for the TOEFL® today with dozens of realistic TOEFL® reading practice questions. See how our students utilize our questions to enhance their reading skills and improve their TOEFL® scores.

1. According to paragraph 1, where did Charles Darwin begin to observe and formulate the basis for his Theory of Evolution?

Answer all reading questions on our reading practice section.
START

Charles Darwin And The Theory Of Evolution

Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is known as one of the most important and controversial scientific theories ever published. Darwin was an English scientist in the 19th century best known for his book “On the Origin of Species.” In his book, Darwin postulated different species shared characteristics of common ancestors, that they branched off from common ancestors as they evolved, and that new traits and characteristics were a result of natural selection. The theory is based on the assumptions that life developed from non-life and progressed and evolved in an indirect manner. Therefore, the Theory of Evolution, while controversial, has shaped and influenced the modern scientific world's thinking on the development of life itself.

Darwin was born February 12, 1809 in England. Although initially entering into medicine, Darwin chose to pursue his interest in natural science and embarked on a five-year journey aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, a British sloop belonging to the Royal Navy. Because of his experience aboard the Beagle, he laid the foundation for his Theory of Evolution while also establishing him within the scientific community. Specifically, Darwin's keen observation of the fossils and wildlife he saw during his time on the Beagle served as the basis for the cornerstone of his theory: natural selection.

Natural selection is 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.

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

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

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

Comprensive TOEFL® Practice Questions

Just like you do on the real TOEFL® test, you get 14 variations of reading practice question formatted the same as an actual TOEFL® test. In addition, you get to review every practice test and every practice question once you've completed the test. As part of that review, you get all your reading answers saved to our servers to be reviewed at any time.

Total Reading Practice Questions: 72

  • TOEFL® Reading Practice Material
    • Title Question
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 1 Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 2 The Ancient Sumerians
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 3 Kaktovik
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 4 Andean Civilizations
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 5 Frogs
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 6 The Evolution of Language
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 7 Japanese Architecture
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 8 Modern Advertising
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 9 The Moons of Jupiter
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 10 Native American Trade
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 11 Household Pests
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 12 Geothermal Energy
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 13 Pueblos
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 14 Urban Climates
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 15 Europe after the Middle Ages
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 16 Ants as Plants
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 17 Westward Migration
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 18 Sound in Motion Pictures
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 19 Species Evolution
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 20 History of Native American Trade
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 21 National Parks
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 22 Temperature
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 23 Evolution of Language
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 24 Plate Tectonic Theory
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 25 Cell Theory
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 26 Red-billed Quelea
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 27 Redshift
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 28 The Nile
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 29 Polar Animals
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 30 Early Capitalism
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 31 Aztec Agriculture
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 32 El Niño
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 33 Chemistry
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 34 Studying Infant Perception
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 35 Wild Crops Domestication in Southwest Asia
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 36 Japanese Climate
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 37 Distribution of Plants and Animals
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 38 Mummies
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 39 The Agricultural Revolution
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 40 Anglo Saxons
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 41 Atmosphere and water on Venus
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 42 Hieroglyphs
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 43 The Stone Age
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 44 The Nebular Hypothesis
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 45 Why trees drop twigs and leaves
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 46 The Mesolithic Age
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 47 Dinosaurs
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 48 The Navigation Acts
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 49 The Evolution of Flightless Birds
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 50 The Rise and Fall of the Chacoan Civilization
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 51 Metal detection
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 52 The Evolution of Eyes
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 53 The Cambrian Explosion
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 54 Island Biodiversity
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 55 The formation and evolution of the earth’s atmosphere
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 56 Fossils
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 57 Radiocarbon Dating and Faunal Analysis
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 58 Urban Development in Ancient Rome
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 59 Agricultural Productivity in the Early Ottoman Empire
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 60 Bioluminescence
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 61 Bird vocalization
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 62 Butterfly Defenses
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 63 Coastal Animal and Plant Adaptations
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 64 Continental Drift and Biodiversity
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 65 Elephant Communication
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 66 Lateralization in the Songbird Brain
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 67 Milankovitch cycles
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 68 Complex Hunter-Gatherers
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 69 Origin of Newspapers in Europe
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 70 Stone Age Agriculture
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 71 The Moai of Easter Island
    • TOEFL Reading Practice 72 The Railroads in 19th Century America