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.

Test Structure

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 LevelScoreGeneral Description
Advanced Level24-30can understand low-frequency vocabulary; comprehend inter-related information and synthesize information in passage.
High-Intermediate Level18-23can understand common academic terms; can distinguish ideas based on importance; can synthesize information with difficulty.
Low-Intermediate Level4-17can understand basic grammar and high-frequency words; can identify the purpose of the text but difficulty synthesizing information.
Below Low-Intermediate Level0-3shows very low proficiency in understanding the language.

Reading Tips

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.

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!

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