TOEFL IBT reading skills is the first of the four sections of the tests, carrying 25% weightage. Usually, there are 3 to 5 reading passages of 700 words each. Each passage is followed by 12 to 14 questions and all this has a time limit of 60 to 100 minutes. The reading questions are categorised into three groups, ie, basic information, inferencing skills and reading. To score high in this section, it is important to be well familiarized with all the types of questions.
The typical questions may include:
• Comprehending facts and points related to that idea.
• Understanding author’s point of view.
• Making inferences and making logical conclusions.
• Coherence and theme of the passage
• Able to summarize important points
• Understanding unknown vocabulary in context
The TOEFL reading section measures the candidate’s ability to understand university – level academic texts and reading material. The purpose for academic reading are essentially
• To find information
• To comprehend
• Read to learn
In the TOEFL reading test it uses passages from university-level textbooks. Very little changes are incorporated in the actual passages. These passages cover a wide variety of subjects. It does not make material difference if one is unfamiliar with the contents of the passage. The passages are categorised into: Exposition, Argumentation and historical. There could be multiple perspectives within the passage and hence the candidate must illustrate the compare/contrast or cause/ effect and problem/solution angle.
There are three question formats and a candidate should do extensive practice to be able to perform well on the test. Performance scores in TOEFL reading test is categorised as follows:
• Score 22- 30 : High performance
• Score 15 -21 : Intermediate
• Score 0 – 14: Low performance.
There are proven methods to improve reading scores. Standard reading skills are:
• Skimming: This is a process of obtaining the desired information, eg, reading a newspaper or magazine. Skimming is done when time is short and text is long.
• Scanning: To find specific information scanning is resorted to, eg while searching a train details in the train schedule.
• Extensive reading: This is not deep reading and fast reading is done, eg while reading novels or books. This method of reading improves reading skills.
• Intensive reading: This kind of reading is done when reading short but important texts, such as contracts, reports, etc.
There are certain basic tips one should follow while attempting the TOEFL reading section. Since, the time is short, do not attempt to understand each word and read through in context. When attempting the test, quickly find the main idea and the interconnected details, so that you comprehend the passage better. Summarizing is important. A short summary at the end would be beneficial. So for practice purposes, read a lot and absorb the desired reading skills to score well in this section.