Simplifying TOEFL iBT Test Reading
- September 5, 2017
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Even if you are a fast reader, there’s still a chance you may not be able to aptly handle the reading section of the TOEFL iBT test. The passages written in the exam aren’t exactly normal reading. However, since the questions in the test are based on intricate details, you must read the paragraph with complete focus and concentration.
You could acquire an essential skill that may help you in the future as well; skimming.
In basic terms, skimming is reading quickly while taking notes of the general point of the whole passage, the main ideas and the overall structure. But to do so, there are some difficulties that you must overcome before you harness your reading skills.
Common TOEFL Reading Difficulties
The TOEFL Reading section takes 20 minutes to complete. If you are in a small group that has some spare time, you may be able to make use of it wisely. But if you are not a fast reader or writer, chances are, that you will either barely be able to complete your answers or you’ll run out of time before you finish them.
Time management is crucial when writing the TOEFL exam. If you can’t figure out the right answer, go with an option closest to what you think might be right. If you get extra time, double and triple check your choices to ensure you’ve chosen the correct answer.
When you’re under pressure, you often miss out on little details which end up becoming crucial for your test. The questions are often based on factual details. For example, a question using the word except may be mistaken for using the word not, and that can lead to an incorrect answer.
In addition, due to time constraints, people often overlook words and details that are asked in questions as well. That is why it’s necessary for you to slow down and read the paragraph as well as the question carefully.
There’s a chance you’ll come across a word you don’t understand. When you encounter such words, read the line again to see if it has any impact on the overall meaning of the sentence.
Sometimes, the context of the sentence can give you a general idea of what the word may mean. However, if you’re still not able to understand the word, move on. Remember; you have 20 minutes, so use them wisely.
Preparation Tips for the TOEFL Reading Section
There are some tips and tricks that can help you better your chances at acing the TOEFL Reading section.
Read Material 20 Minutes each Day
Newspapers, books, short stories—anything useful that you can get your hands on.
Read for 20 minutes each day to improve your speed and understanding.
Mark any words that are difficult and check their meaning. Even if you aren’t interested in reading, read one or two chapters each week.
Target Your Own Interests
Contrary to what you may think, reading is a wonderfully fun pastime if you have the right source material. There are books in almost every genre available, as well as magazines. Find a genre that suits your interests and go with it.
Fill your free time with English books and material and use every moment to utilise your passive reading skills.
Build Your Vocabulary
Understand what you read and expand your vocabulary. If you come across a word, try to guess what it means, then consider its context. The sentence around it will give you a general idea of the meaning behind it. For more TOEFL-specific words, take practice tests and focus on how the TOEFL exam uses difficult words, antonyms and synonyms.
Improve Your Speed
Keep in mind that the TOEFL test is timed. Each paragraph should only take five minutes of your time. Improve your reading skills by setting a timer and then reading. Determine how much you’re able to read in those five minutes and do so each day. Stop when the bell sounds, then jot down your result to keep track of it. You’ll find, over time, that your reading speed has gotten faster.
Focusing on the TOEFL Reading Section
Now let’s get down to your skimming skills. Before you start, brush up on the details of the exam so you know what you’re in for.
Each reading section offers you the following details:
- One page-long passage on a field-related topic (the topic is academic; may be related to philosophy, arts, science, history)
- 12-14 questions regarding the reading article
- 20 minutes offered for reading the passage and answering the question
Here’s how you should approach the task.
Read the first 2-3 lines of the paragraph then quickly move across the rest. Read the last lines of the paragraph carefully.
Reading the first lines carefully gives you a clue about the subject given. The next lines are there to provide you with a story. Let them guide you, but don’t get held up because you’re too busy focusing on the ideas.
Focus on the Keywords
As you skim through the content, take note of words that are repeated or are synonymous with the point of the whole paragraph. Most likely, these words are written to support the main idea of the passage and might therefore, be crucial (i.e. might be answers to questions asked in the TOEFL exam). Remember these words and the idea they’re trying to convey in the passage. You’ll be able to answer the questions easily later.
It’s recommended that you take notes on each passage so you have an idea of the flow of the storyline. However, only write notes that summarise the main point. Also, remember that the notes will need to be taken on a separate sheet of paper since you’ll probably take your TOEFL exam on a computer.
Take 1-2 minutes of skimming each paragraph, then use the outline you’ve written in your notes to answer your TOEFL question. This will give you more than enough time to complete your reading section within your range.
Use uMasterExam to Improve TOEFL Test Scores
The three other components of the TOEFL test can also be difficult to pass for those who don’t have a strong grip the English language. For that, uMasterExam offers a guide to the most effective practice tests and preparation courses online.
Our aim is to simplify your method of preparing for the TOEFL iBT by providing you with complete information and guidance.
Our website offers free prep resources, text books and study courses to choose from as well. In addition, we also offer a listing of top TOEFL tutors in your zip code. With uMasterExam, you have all you need to ace that test without a worry!
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