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About the TOEFL iBT Test - Reading Section


Academic Reading Skills

The Reading section measures your ability to understand university-level academic texts and passages. In many academic settings around the world, students are expected to read and understand information from textbooks and other academic materials written in English. The following are three purposes for academic reading:

Reading to find information
  • Effectively scanning text for key facts and important information
  • Increasing reading fluency and rate
Basic comprehension
  • Understanding the general topic or main idea, major points, important fact and details, vocabulary in context, and pronoun references
  • Making inferences about what is implied in a passage
Reading to learn
  • Recognizing the organization and purpose of a passage
  • Understanding relationships between ideas
  • Organizing information into a category chart or a summary in order to recall major points and important details
  • Inferring how ideas throughout the passage content
Reading Passages
The passages cover a variety of subjects. You should not be concerned if you are unfamiliar with a topic. The passage contains all the information needed to answer the questions.

All passages are classified into three basic categories:
  • Exposition
  • Argumentation
  • Historical
Often, passages present information about the topic from more than one perspective or point of view. This is something you should note as you read. Usually, you are asked at least one question that allows you to demonstrate that you understood the general organization of the passage. Common organization types that you should be able to recognize are:
  • Classification
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Cause/Effect
  • Problem /Solution
Reading Question Formats
There are three question formats in the Reading section:
  • Questions with four choices and a single correct answer in traditional multiple-choice format
  • Questions with four choices and a single answer that ask test takers to "insert a sentence" where it fits best in a passage
  • "Reading to learn" questions with more than four choices and more than one possible correct answer.
Source: The Official guide to the TOEFL Test - Fourth Edition

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