The Reading section measures your ability to understand university-level academic texts and passages. In many academic settings around the world, students are expected to read and understand information from textbooks and other academic materials written in English. The following are three purposes for academic reading:
Reading to Find Information
• Effectively scanning text for key facts and important information
• Increasing reading fluency and rate
• Understanding the general topic or main idea, major points, important facts and details, vocabulary in context, and pronoun usage
• Making inferences about what is implied in a passage
Reading to Learn
• Recognizing the organization and purpose of a passage
• Understanding relationships between ideas
• Organizing information into a category chart or a summary in order to recall major points and important details
• Inferring how ideas connect throughout the passage
Reading Section Description
The TOEFL iBT® Reading section includes three to four reading passages. There are 12 to 14 questions per passage. You have 60 to 80 minutes to answer all the questions in the section.
TOEFL iBT® Reading passages are excerpts from university-level textbooks that would be used in introductions to a discipline or topic. The excerpts are changed as little as possible because the goal of the TOEFL iBT test is to assess how well you can read the kind of writing that is used in an academic environment.
The passages will cover a variety of different subjects. You don’t need to be familiar with the topic of a passage because all the information you need to answer the questions will be in the passage itself.
Often passages present information about the topic from more than one perspective or point of view. This is something you should note as you read because you’ll usually be asked at least one question that allows you to show that you have understood the general organization of the passage.
You must read through or scroll to the end of each passage before receiving questions on that passage. Once the questions appear, the passage appears on the right side of the computer screen. The questions are on the left.
Reading Question Formats
There are three question formats in the Reading section:
• Questions with four choices and a single answer in traditional multiple-choice format
• Questions with four choices and a single answer that ask you to “insert a sentence” where it fits best in a passage
• “Reading to learn” questions with more than four choices and more than one possible correct answer
Each passage is accompanied by a “reading to learn” question. These questions test your ability to recognize how the passage is organized and to understand the relationships among facts and ideas in different parts of the passage.
For these questions, you’re asked to sort information and place the text options provided into a category chart or summary. The summary questions are worth up to two points each. The chart questions are worth up to three points if there are five options presented, and up to four points if there are seven options presented.