TOEFL Strategies: Reading Comprehension Section

Reading is the first section of the TOEFL iBT exam. An excerpt of text appears on the right side of the screen, and questions appear on the left. The passages are long, and students may need to scroll down with the slider. Therefore, it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the set of tools on the screen in advance. Click the ‘NEXT’ button to proceed to the next task and ‘BACK’ to return to the previous one. The ‘REVIEW’ button will help you go to the view of all questions with specified (or not specified) answer options to make changes, if necessary. A dictionary is provided in the reading section. If the word/phrase in the passage is marked in blue, then when you click on it with the cursor, the definition will appear.

The reading section consists of 3-5 passages of text, each about 700 words. There are 20 minutes to read and answer 12-14 questions after the text. That is, the total time for this section is 60-100 minutes, depending on the number of excerpts. Students are allowed to take notes, but drafts cannot be taken away from the test center.

In the TOEFL Reading Comprehension section, you may encounter the following types of tasks:

Find a fact


Find the main idea


Define the structure


Understand the use of the word




Answer the opposite argument


Identify sources


Understand the use of a word in context


Find links in text




Classify information (fill in the table)

8-15 questions


2-5 questions


1-3 questions


3-5 questions


3-5 questions


2-5 questions


2-5 questions


8-15 questions


3-5 questions


3-5 questions


1-2 questions

Also follow these tips:

• Read newspapers and magazines. Read anything, anywhere.

• Learn to quickly view text to take notes without having to read the entire assignment.

• Pay special attention to unfamiliar words, the use of prefixes, suffixes and roots.

• Learn to determine the meaning of a word from context.

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