What to expect in the TOEFL iBT reading

The TOEFL iBT reading section tests your ability to read and understand academic texts in English. The passages are taken directly from real university textbooks. The purpose is to ensure that prospective students are capable of coping in the university environment.

The skills that are tested are reading to find information, basic comprehension and reading to learn.

There are 3-5 texts and each one is about 700 words in length. Each text is followed by 12-14 questions. The first passage alone is 20 minutes and the second and third passages are 40 minutes for reading and answering the questions.

How should I prepare for the TOEFL iBT reading?

As mentioned above, the passages are taken directly from university textbooks in all areas so the first and most important piece of advice you can get is to read a wide range of academic subjects.

Read critically. What is the reason this writer wrote this text. What are they really saying? Are they trying to explain, convince, or resolve a problem?

Take notes. Note-taking will help you to remember facts and details that will assist you in answering the questions faster. Write your notes in blocks that represent the paragraphs on the screen so that you can easily find that information again.
Skim first. Skimming the text will help you to understand what it is you are about to read. Skimming is not a substitute for reading but it will make reading faster and more thorough.

Read carefully. When you read the text, identify the passage type – classification, problem and solution, cause and effect, compare and contrast, etc.


Remember that a solid understanding is built like a house. First you need a good foundation, then you build the framing and then you fill in the walls with bricks. When you are reading, you need to make an impression of what you will read from the title and skimming the introduction and looking at the writing style and the purpose. Then, you frame the text by taking the main point from each of the paragraphs. Then you fill in the framing with the sentences that give you the details. The brick by itself is not a useful tool; just as a sentence without context is not useful.

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