Last Updated: February 25, 2021
TOEFL Reading Section
TOEFL exam is mostly taken by international students and the like when they have to prove their language proficiency to the college/ university they need admission in. It is also taken by other students to increase the weightage of their college application and since the exam has gained importance over the years with institutions demanding TOEFL or IELTS scores.
The exam contains a Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking section with a grade point of 30 each which will be the section score in your score report. Institutions can sometimes require a specific total score and at the same time demand a specific section score as well. It is for this factor that you should focus on the Reading section of the test. Along with this, there will also be a reading passage in the Writing section where you will be asked to write a response to the passage you have just read. Sections can, therefore, often be overlapping in nature.
Why Reading Test? What do they look for?
The Reading section of TOEFL focuses on assessing your ability to understand and comprehend passages they have provided within the stipulated time. The passages are often around 700 words in length and there can be over 3-4 reading passages you will have to focus on. This determines your reading pace along with the time it takes you to understand university-level textbooks. The excerpts they provide are often taken from university-level textbooks and can be introductions to a specific course or subject.
The passages taken will be of different topics which helps them understand if you are able to understand the text because you the language or because you know the subject in general.
The Reading section contains 3-4 passages
each of 700 words
in length. Each of these passages will have 10 questions that you will have to answer after carefully perusing the text. The passages provided will be excerpts from textbooks of various disciples. It isn’t required that you be familiar with the disciplines they refer to. They grade you according to the understanding you gain of the text through your proficiency in the language.
The maximum time you will receive for this section is from 54-72 minutes within which you will have to read all four passages, their questions, and attempt answers for all 30-40 questions provided.
The TOEFL Score Report contains both your section scores and a total score. The section scores will be scaled within a score range of 0-30 while the total score is the sum of all the section scores and ranges from 0-120.
The sections can have 4 or 5 proficiency levels each and each proficiency level indicates at the degree of your knowledge in English. There is no grade that equals to a failing but a 0 indicates that you do not know the language enough to adapt in an English-speaking country.
|Proficiency Level||Score||General Description|
|Advanced Level||24-30||can understand low-frequency vocabulary; comprehend inter-related information and synthesize information in passage. |
|High-Intermediate Level||18-23||can understand common academic terms; can distinguish ideas based on importance; can synthesize information with difficulty. |
|Low-Intermediate Level||4-17||can understand basic grammar and high-frequency words; can identify the purpose of the text but difficulty synthesizing information. |
|Below Low-Intermediate Level||0-3||shows very low proficiency in understanding the language. |
The Reading section is one of the sections that demand preparation specific to time. In this section, the trick is in reading the entire text within as little time as possible and moving on to the test. This requires strategical planning and practice since you only receive a maximum of 72 minutes to read the passages and questions and then to answer all the questions accordingly.
- Practice Reading for Speed-Though test-takers are sure to have read articles/ blogs/ books in the required language, it is possible that you were never rushed in completing the text within a stipulated time. It is necessary that you practice reading fast absorbing as much content as you go. This requires a lot of practice in reading texts from various disciples.
- Develop Comprehension Speed-When you have learned the art of reading as fast as you can, you should focus on understanding the content you read through without missing any key points. Reading fast can make you ignore a lot of important content which can affect you adversely during the test. Every word that you read in the passage may come in handy while answering the questions and hence the habit of comprehending text while reading through it as fast as possible is something that will help you in the test and academically as a whole.
- Pick Low-Frequency Vocabulary-One of those rubrics in the Reading section for TOEFL is how the High-Intermediate and Advanced Level grades focus on the ability to understand low-frequency academic words. So while practicing your reading skills, take up academic books and read through introductory passages which are bound to have words that are not commonly used. Focus on these words. Go back to the passage and find the meaning of the word you couldn’t understand and learn it as you read. Also, make a habit of placing the word in random sentences to confirm whether you know the perfect usage of the term.
- Keep Reading-When you are not reading to increase your speed, or when you get bored of trying to read fast and comprehend at the same time, you can just read. Read both academic and non-academic materials. Even reading write-ups that pop-up on social media platforms is practice. Once you have completed reading a passage, form questions of your own and try to answer them to test your level of comprehension.
- Use Grammar to the Rescue-If you come across vocabulary beyond your level of learning, you can always rely on the grammar to understand what the sentence is about especially if you place it within the context. Relationships between independent and dependent clauses can formulate an idea that is not too far from what is being discussed giving you the option of answering correctly despite being unaware of what is actually happening.
Learning a language is never easy and the only tip that stays constant throughout examinations is general is the golden one of practice. Practice by learning the format of the test and learning what the test demands. All the best!