TOEFL Reading Section Tips

The main challenge posed by the Reading section is the turgid and technical nature of the material. The passages are usually written in a convoluted style and often contain abstruse content matter, typically of a specialized scientific, social science or business nature.

Skim the first and last sentences of the introduction, the first sentence of each body paragraph, and the first and last sentences of the conclusion.

Pay attention to transition words.

Find the main idea and note the structure, scope, tone and conclusion.

Start working through the questions.

Do the "easy" questions first.

For each question, locate the key words, go back to the necessary section of the passage, and read the passage more carefully to locate the answer.

Make a guess before looking at the answer choices.

Eliminate wrong answers and choose the answer choice most similar your own guess.

Learn from the Speed Readers

You can read much faster when you guide your eyes. Unfortunately, that is easier to accomplish on paper than it is on the screen. Nevertheless, you should try various techniques during your preparation until you find the one which you like the best. For example, you can guide your eyes by the pencil provided by the test center, or you can use the mouse pointer. Generally, there is no patent recipe, so you have to experiment.

Focus on Improving Skimming Skills for the TOEFL Reading Section

Reading on the TOEFL exam is not necessarily “normal reading.” In other words, students don’t have time to read the reading section in-depth, so an essential skill is necessary: skimming. Skimming is basically reading quickly for a general understanding of the passage, taking note of main ideas and overall organization. How does one go about doing this? Well, when you are skimming, keep the following in mind:

Read only the first two or three sentences of the first paragraph and the first and last sentences of each paragraph after that.
Move quickly across the words as you read them – do not be tempted to read the passage word for word.

Take note of key words.
As you skim each TOEFL reading article, you will probably notice words that are repeated or words that are synonymous with the main idea of the passage as a whole. Taking note of key words, which are words that define the topic and supporting points of the passage, is crucial on the TOEFL. More than likely, questions that follow will ask specifically about key words and if you have an idea of where they are in the passage, you will be able to answer the questions faster.

Don’t be afraid to take notes.
Overall, taking brief notes on a reading passage can be helpful because it will give you an idea of where to find specific bits of information in each passage. Sometimes, it is useful to give each paragraph a word or phrase that best summarizes its main idea. Keep in mind that all note-taking will have to be on a separate piece of paper because the TOEFL iBt is now given on a computer.

Watch for connections between paragraphs.
Look for the ways in which main ideas in one paragraph might relate to the main ideas in the other paragraphs. You might find during your outlining process that some paragraphs actually address the same concept; take note of them while also paying close attention to the transitional words between all the sentences.

Pay attention to connecting words. While connecting words are often encouraged in your writing for the TOEFL, when you train your eye to pay attention to them in reading it can lead to a greater understanding of a reading passage. Connecting words can often be placed into categories. Here are several categories and their corresponding connecting words:Connecting words that show RESULTS: as a result, so, thereforeConnecting words that show COMPARISONS: in contrast, on the other handConnecting words that show STEPS: first, second, next, finally

TOEFL Reading Practice Tips From Manhattan Elite Prep

  • Practice these strategies by taking an academic text, or an article from a well-established newspaper. It will really help your outlining abilities
  • When you finish skimming each passage, which generally takes about 1-2 minutes, you should have an outline of the passage in your mind. This outline will serve as a guide when answering the bulk of the TOEFL reading questions and hopefully, a tool to get you to finish each 20-minute reading section on time!
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