Reading section – the structure
As most of us in the world of TOEFL preparation know, the Reading section of the Official TOEFL iBT consists of 3 reading passages. These passages typically deal with academic subjects – anything from natural and social sciences, to business and the arts . The materials in the Reading section are at the first year of university level. Each passage is 600-700 words long, and contains ALL the information needed to answer the 12 -14 questions that follow. So, remember, you don’t need to have extra knowledge on the subject itself ; knowledge of academic subjects is not what TOEFL tests – it tests your ability to understand and use English in the academic environment.
Reading section – additional passages
Now, you might ask , what about the 4th and maybe even the 5th passage that some test takers get on their Official TOEFL iBT? These ‘extra’ passages are not scored for you – they are there to evaluate the new test materials. You are going to have additional 20 minutes for each extra passage, along with the usual questions. It’s worth noting here that EVERY passage should be treated the same. You won’t know which one (or more) is the additional material (it could be ANY of the ones you get). As your Official TOEFL test is approaching, you might want to start building your stamina by practising with longer Reading sections.
Reading section – how to prepare
Preparing for the Reading section of the TOEFL exam shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is NOT something that can be mastered in a short period of time. It takes time and a lot of CONSISTENT PRACTICE. In fact, if you start building your general reading skills early, when the time comes (to focus on TOEFL Reading Section strategies and practice), you will find that part of your TOEFL preparation a lot more manageable.
If you are just starting your TOEFL preparation, it is best to refer to the official ETS website. The website offers all the necessary information about TOEFL , including the list of useful resources (like “The Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT” series). You can also read about the Basic TOEFL reading techniques and strategies here.
If you are already familiar with the basics of TOEFL Reading, the next step is to APPLY that theoretical knowledge to daily reading practice. You can start with one TOEFL Reading passage (the first few days), but make sure you get used to the full length Reading section, as well as the ‘extended’ version, early on. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed on the official test day.
Finally, keep consistently practising TOEFL Reading, even if you have to focus on other sections of the test. It will help you avoid a very common mistake a lot of TOEFL takers make – they neglect the reading practice if they need to improve other TOEFL skills (like Speaking and Writing); as a result, many of them often get a lower score in Reading, when they take official test again.