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  • 6 Secrets to Acing the TOEFL’s Reading Section

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    Read a wide variety of materials

    The reading sections on the TOEFL may contain vocabulary from a range of academic fields, so it’s a good idea to practice by reading content on diverse subjects rather than just the topics you’re most interested in. Read content from textbooks, newspapers, magazines, books, and websites to expand your vocabulary.

    Read content based on your Lexile measure

    If you have taken the TOEFL before, you can go to the Lexile Measures website and enter your reading score to get suggestions for content that is at your reading level but challenging enough that you’ll continue to build your vocabulary and comprehension skills.

    Familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked in the reading section

    By understanding what kinds of questions you’ll be asked on the exam, you’ll be better able to focus on the right aspects of the reading passages. You can expect to be asked at least one question about the main idea of the passage, a couple of questions about the meaning of certain vocabulary words, several questions about details of the passage, and several questions that ask you to make inferences. You should take practice TOEFL exams to better understand the types of questions you will encounter.

    Practice reading without a dictionary nearby

    You’ll get better at understanding written content if you can use context clues and inferences to figure out vocabulary words you don’t know rather than constantly referring to your dictionary. Reading without a dictionary is also a good reminder that you shouldn’t get hung up on an individual word you don’t know and should instead concentrate on the general meaning of the passage.

    Determine the purpose of each passage

    Understanding the purpose of each reading passage will make it easier both to answer questions about the main topic and to make inferences. Typically, the purpose will fall into one of three general categories: the author may be trying to explain fact-based information, find a solution to a dilemma or question, or convince the reader of a certain viewpoint. Pay close attention to the introductory paragraph, as it will contain important information about the purpose of the passage.

    Skim the passage, read the questions, and return to the passage

    The TOEFL contains three timed reading sections, each lasting twenty minutes, so it’s unlikely that you’ll have time to thoroughly read each passage more than once. Instead, train yourself to skim the passage to get the main idea, read the questions, and then read the passage to find the details from the questions.

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  • Comments on this post (4 comments)

    • Rebecca Rodriguez says...

      Seriously needed! Many thanks for such a well thought list. I tell my students that it’s just as easy to learn interesting words as boring ones if they intend to join a civilized community. Words make the man!

      On July 02, 2016

    • Ailton says...

      Very helpful tips, thanks a million!

      On December 30, 2015

    • natchanok nam says...

      Very helpful and concrete.

      On September 16, 2015

    • riza jane tinio says...


      On October 30, 2014

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