Amazing Free Reading Practice & Passages for the TOEFL iBT Test

You’ve come here seeking free practice for the reading section of the TOEFL exam.

We’ve given you that, plus we’ve provided you with some instruction, where we walk you through the process of answering the questions in the easiest and best manner possible. You might also want to consider looking at some of the more extensive practice options that are available elsewhere.

Well then, let’s get started! Are you ready for the first of the reading passages? Here we go:

Role of chlorophyll in plants

You might have wondered why most plants are green. The answer lies in a small pigment molecule found in all green plants, algae and cyanobacteria, known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is located in chloroplasts, which are organelles found in the cells of plants and algae.

Plants can get all their energy requirements from the red and blue parts of the light spectrum, but there is a large part of the spectrum that does not get absorbed. This part of the spectrum leans towards green wavelengths, and chlorophyll does not absorb them. Instead, it reflects them, giving plants their characteristic green color. Since it is light-absorbing, chlorophyll is called a photoreceptor.

Vascular plants that can absorb and transport nutrients and moisture through specialized systems have two different types of chlorophyll. These are known as chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b. The two chlorophylls differ slightly in color and chemical makeup, but both are very effective photoreceptors.

The different side groups in the two chlorophylls absorb slightly different wavelengths such that the light that is not absorbed by chlorophyll a is absorbed by chlorophyll b, which absorbs better at that particular wavelength. This means the two chlorophylls complement each other and work towards absorbing sunlight energy.

Several other pigments are found in the chloroplasts of algae, bacteria and diatoms, coloring them various shades of red, orange, blue and violet. These molecules are known as accessory pigments, and are able to absorb light where chlorophyll is unable to.

Apart from giving plants their green color, chlorophyll is also responsible for giving plants energy by converting light energy into chemical energy. This process takes place in chloroplasts, in a complex process known as photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, chlorophyll molecules, carbon dioxide, water and specialized enzymes convert light energy into simple sugars that individual cells in the plant can use to carry on their processes.

Inside the chloroplasts are thykaloid sacs which house photosystems. Photosystems are groups of pigment molecules and proteins also known as light-harvesting systems. The two types of photosystems that have been identified are photosystem I and photosystem II, with photosystem II being the first in the chain of the photosynthesis process.

Chlorophyll molecules are arranged around and inside these photosystems. ∎ Inside the photosystems, chlorophyll molecules have three main functions. ∎ First, they absorb light from the sun. The chlorophyll molecules then transfer this light energy to a chlorophyll pair inside the photosystems called the reaction center of photosynthesis. ∎ In the reaction center,  ∎ the chlorophyll molecules perform their third function; charge separation.

Charge separation leads to the splitting of water molecules in a series of complex reactions. The water molecules are turned into oxygen gas and hydrogen ions. It is through this process of charge separation that plants are responsible for producing almost all the oxygen gas in the earth’s atmosphere.

Photosynthesis is how plants get their energy, but it is not only important for them. Photosynthesis is essential for other living things on earth. Through photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide from the environment and release oxygen into the air, which is the oxygen we need to breathe. It is also important because animals eat plants and indirectly use the light energy converted by plants to fuel their own bodies.

Chlorophyll absorbs light strongly and therefore tends to mask other less intense colors from molecules such as carotene and quercetin. These less intense colors are only revealed when chlorophyll decays in autumn, and the woodlands turn red, orange, and golden brown. Chlorophyll is damaged when plants are cooked because the central magnesium atom in its structure is replaced by hydrogen ions. This leads to the green color turning into a paler, yellowy green.

When leaves produce an insufficient amount of chlorophyll, they are said to have a condition known as chlorosis. This condition causes the leaves to turn yellow, and is caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and sap-sucking insects. It can also come about as a result of inappropriate soil Ph, which makes it impossible for a plant to absorb the nutrients it requires from the soil.

In conclusion, chlorophyll is important in plants as it gives them their green color and gives them energy to carry out processes such as germination, flowering and growth. It is an essential component of photosynthesis, a process that also gives us the oxygen we breathe.

Now that you’ve read the reading passage, are you ready to answer the questions?

Directions: Mark your answer by filling in the oval next to your choice.

Factual Information

  1. According to paragraph 2, why do plants have their characteristic green color?
  • Because they have both carotene and quercetin
  • Because chlorophyll does not absorb green wavelengths, but instead reflects them
  • Because they have chlorosis
  • Because they undergo a complex process known as photosynthesis

Before we help you answer this question, take a look at the answers to see if you can select the right one.

Are you done?  Because this question needs you to specifically use information from paragraph 2, you won’t need to read any other part of the passage.

Now you’ll want to go back and re-read paragraph 2; then you can come back to the answers.

Done? Next, compare the answer with what is in paragraph 2, then use an elimination process to find the right answer.

Here we go:

Choice one is not right because the molecules mentioned in the phrase are those that give plants other colors (and not green).

Choice three is not right because chlorosis is a disease, and the information in choice four is not even found in paragraph 2.

Through this elimination process, we can see that choice 2 is the correct answer.

Negative Factual Information

  1. The following are all true about photosynthesis except:
  • During photosynthesis, oxygen is released.
  • Animals indirectly use the light energy converted by plants during photosynthesis.
  • Photosynthesis cleans the air we breathe because it takes carbon dioxide from the environment and releases oxygen.
  • Water is not a necessary component of photosynthesis.

For this question, we will need you to go through the answers and see if you can spot the choice that is not consistent with the information in the passage. Have you done that?

If you have, then inspect the answers one by one and quickly skim the passage to see whether they are in agreement with the passage. So, for example, choice one is in agreement with the information in paragraph 10.

Check the other choices in this same manner until you find the one that cannot be verified using the passage.

The answer here would be choice 4, because it is in contradiction with the passage. According to the passage, water is needed in photosynthesis.

Inference Question

  1. Which one of the following can be inferred about chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b from paragraph 3 and 4?
  • The two chlorophylls compete for sunlight.
  • The two chlorophylls are required for photosynthesis to be complete in vascular plants.
  • Chlorophyll a can function on its own.
  • Chlorophyll b gives plants a different pigment such as red, orange, blue and violet.

For this question, first we’ll need you to go through each of the answers.

Then you will want to reread paragraphs 3 and 4, but this time, more keenly, in order to grasp the message implied in the words that is not expressly stated.

Use an elimination method to select the right answer.

Choice 1 is wrong because it contradicts the passage; the two chlorophylls complement each other.

Choice 3 is out, because chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b are necessary components in photosynthesis, as stated in the passage, and the information in choice 4 is wrong and not even included in paragraphs 3 and 4.

In the passage, the author says, ‘the light that is not absorbed by chlorophyll a is absorbed by chlorophyll b, which absorbs better at that particular wavelength,’ meaning; the two chlorophylls need to work together so that where one is not able to absorb, the other one can take over.

The right choice would therefore be, choice 2.

Rhetorical Purpose Question

  1. Why does the author mention that in autumn, the woodlands turn red, orange, and golden brown?
  • To show the importance of chlorophyll in photosynthesis
  • To demonstrate the superiority of chlorophyll in absorbing aspects of the light spectrum in comparison to other molecules
  • To argue that the woodlands can be a beautiful place to visit in autumn
  • To note the intricate science behind the process of converting light energy to chemical energy

This question wants you to think about the context within which the highlighted text has been used.

You will first need to go back to the passage and locate the text. It is in the third paragraph from the bottom.

Have you found it? To get the correct answer, quickly go through the whole paragraph. Are you done?

Now go through each of the answers and compare the information in each choice against the information provided in the paragraph.

You will want to keep in mind that the woodlands here are said to turn to different hues because chlorophyll has faded and therefore, the other colors it has been masking can now be seen.

The statement is therefore used to show the superiority of chlorophyll’s ability to absorb light as compared to the other weaker molecules.

The correct answer would, therefore, be choice 2.

Vocabulary Question

  1. In stating that this part of the spectrum leans toward green wavelengths, the author means that the part of the spectrum:
  • Needs green light
  • Rests towards green
  • Has a high concentration of green
  • Absorbs green colors

Here, it’s important to remember that you are not just answering about the meaning of the phrase, but more importantly, how it is used in the passage.

So let’s go back to the passage and look for the phrase. Have you found it? It’s in the second paragraph.

Now, go through the answers and try to replace each answer with the underlined words, and see if the sentence makes sense and still maintains the general idea of the passage.

You will see that the answer in this case would therefore be choice 3.

Reference Question

  1. “…The answer lies in a small pigment molecule found in all green plants, algae and cyanobacteria, known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is located in chloroplasts, which are organelles found in the cells of plants and algae…”

The word which in the passage refers to :

  • Plants
  • Cells
  • Chlorophyll
  • Chloroplasts

First, read the question again to understand what it requires you to do. Done?

In number 6, you don’t need to go back to the passage; just read the small part of the passage to answer the question.

Now the word which is a relative pronoun, and is the subject of the relative clause that follows it “…which are the organelles found in the cells of plants and algae…”

That clause is a description of what chloroplasts are, so the word which refers to chloroplasts.

The correct answer, therefore, is choice 4.

Sentence Simplification Question

  1. “…Photosynthesis is how plants get their energy, but it is not only important for them. Photosynthesis is essential for other living things on earth. Through photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide from the environment and release oxygen into the air, which is the oxygen we need to breathe. It is also important because animals eat plants and indirectly use the light energy converted by plants to fuel their own bodies…” Of the following statements, which one is closest in meaning to the sentence highlighted above?
  • Plants take oxygen from the air and release carbon dioxide into the air.
  • Plants use up carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis and release oxygen, which is then breathed in by humans.
  • Plants reduce carbon dioxide in the environment by using it up during photosynthesis.
  • Carbon dioxide and oxygen are both useful gases during photosynthesis.

The second sentence of the question is crucial in answering this question correctly, so we’ll need you to read it again. Done?

Okay now that you’ve checked it again, what you need to do is go back and read the excerpt again, being careful to fully comprehend the meaning of the highlighted text.

Now read the choices and be sure to check which choice either contradicts the information in the highlighted sentence, or leaves out some information.

Choice 1 gives incorrect information because oxygen is released and not taken in during photosynthesis.

Choice 3 leaves out the part about us breathing in the oxygen released by plants, and choice four is wrong because only carbon dioxide is used during photosynthesis.

The correct answer, therefore, is choice 2.

Insert Text Question

  1. Examine the 4 square-marks [ ∎ ] in the text which signify the places in which the following sentence could possibly fit.

All these functions must take place in sequence for photosynthesis to be deemed complete.

Choose the place where you think the sentence would best fit:

  • All these functions must take place in sequence for photosynthesis to be deemed complete. Inside the photosystems, chlorophyll molecules have three main functions.
  • All these functions must take place in sequence for photosynthesis to be deemed complete. First, they absorb light from the sun.
  • All these functions must take place in sequence for photosynthesis to be deemed complete. In the reaction center, the chlorophyll molecules perform their third function; charge separation.
  • In the reaction center, all these functions must take place in sequence for photosynthesis to be deemed complete.

First, you will want to go back to the part of the passage that has these squares and re-read it to get a sense of where the sentence in bold fits best. Found it?

Now, keep in mind that the sentence is referring to the functions performed by chlorophyll, which are the things that have already been mentioned in the first sentence of that paragraph.

Therefore, this new sentence is just making a clarification of what has already been stated, so you will want to place it as near to the first question as possible.

It also needs to read correctly in the spot you place it. The correct answer here would then be choice 2, where the sentence in bold comes immediately after the first sentence, and before you try to explain the three functions performed by chlorophyll inside the photosystems.

Prose Summary Question

You will find a sentence below these instructions which begins to summarize the reading passage above. Conclude this summary by choosing 3 of the 6 answers that best communicates the key concepts which are discussed in the passage. Be careful not to include answers which refer to ideas that are not discussed in the passage, or instead, are only insignificant points of no particular importance.

This passage discusses the important role played by chlorophyll in plants, which gives them their green color and converts light energy into chemical energy.

  1. There are other pigment molecules found in algae, diatoma and bacteria that give them hues of red, blue, orange and violet.
  2. Chlorophyll tends to absorb red and blue light, but reflects green light. This is the reason most plants are green.
  3. Chlorophyll is important in the process of photosynthesis. Together with carbon dioxide, water and enzymes, chlorophyll successfully converts sunlight into simple sugars that the plants can use to carry out their processes at the cellular level.
  4. Sometimes less intense colors such as red, blue and violet are able to mask green colors, and compete for sunshine.
  5. When plants don’t have enough chlorophyll, they turn a pale yellow color in a condition known as sclerosis.
  6. Chlorophyll assists in the process of photosynthesis, which makes food for plants. Animals then feed on the plants. The process of photosynthesis also takes carbon dioxide from the environment and releases oxygen, which animals and humans breathe in.

For this question, you will have to have the general idea discussed in the passage and extract the facts that contribute to the general theme of the article (i.e. the ones the article would be incomplete without).

We will need you to go back to the passage now and read it all once again. Write down in note form the important parts of the passage.

Are you done?

Once you have finished reading and taking notes of the major points, come back and go through the answer choices. Let’s go through them together.

Choice 1 is correct, but it is not an important part of demonstrating the role of chlorophyll in plants.

Choice 2 is both correct and relevant in explaining the importance of chlorophyll in plants. It gives them their green color.

Choice 3 is correct and demonstrates how chlorophyll helps plants make chemical energy from light energy.

Choice 4 is not correct according to the information provided in the passage.

Choice 5 is incorrect, too, because the condition of having an insufficient amount of chlorophyll is chlorosis. Sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord; plants have neither.

Choice 6 is both correct and relevant as it shows the importance of chlorophyll in photosynthesis, as well as the importance of photosynthesis to animals. Without chlorophyll, both plants and animals would not have sufficient energy to carry out the normal processes that help keep them alive.

The correct answers here would therefore be choice numbers 2, 3 and 6.

Fill In A Table Question

  1. A table has been provided for you here in order to summarize the relevant information about the two types of pigment molecules mentioned in the reading section above. Pair the types of pigment with the suitable statements which you would logically connect them with.
TYPES OF PIGMENT STATEMENTS
Chlorophyll Select 3

Accessory pigments Select 2

Statements

These pigment molecules absorb sunlight and conduct photosynthesis in algae, diatoms and bacteria.

Pigment molecules aid in the process of photosynthesis by absorbing red and green light.

When this pigment absorbs red and blue light and reflects green light, the result is a green color which can be seen on the plant.

When plants make this in insufficient amounts, they turn into a brownish color in a condition known as chlorosis.

Pigments come as a and b, and both types complement each other in the task of absorbing light.

Pigments give plants colors such as red, blue, violet and orange, but the colors are only evident in autumn.

Quercetin and carotene are examples of pigments responsible for the green color of plants.

Now, go back to the blank table above, and remember to match the appropriate statements to the types of pigment with which they are associated.

Try it yourself first.

Now that you’ve tried it by yourself, let’s walk through the process together to see how you can improve on what you did, or verify that you got everything right.

For this question, you will need to have a general idea of what the role of chlorophyll is in plants, and what the role of the accessory pigments is as outlined in the passage. This means that you will want to go back and read the whole passage once more, since these ideas are spread throughout the passage.

If you’re done with the reading, let’s go through the statements together and compare them to the information provided in the passage.

Statement 1 refers to accessory pigments because they are the ones, according to the passage, that conduct photosynthesis in diatoms, algae, and bacteria. That goes to the second row of the table.

Statement 2 refers to chlorophyll because it is the molecule that, according to the passage, absorbs red and blue light in the process of photosynthesis. That goes into the first row.

Statement 3 goes to the first row as it also refers to chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color.

Statement 4 is wrong because the passage says that when plants have chlorosis, they turn yellow and not brownish. This one does not fit into any row.

Statement 5 goes into row one because in the passage, chlorophyll is mentioned as being the molecule that comes as chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b, and the two types complement each other.

Statement 6 goes into the second row, because it refers to accessory molecules that give plants their colors such as red, blue, orange and violet, but the colors are only evident in autumn after chlorophyll has decayed.

Statement 7 is incorrect, because quercetin and carotene don’t give plants a green color. Chlorophyll does that. This statement therefore does not fit into any of the rows in the table.

So now that we’ve finished, we’re ready to look at how a completed table would look like for this question:

TYPES OF PIGMENT STATEMENTS
Chlorophyll Select 3

  • Pigment molecules aid in the process of photosynthesis by absorbing red and green light.
  • When this pigment absorbs red and blue light and reflects green light, the result is a green color which can be seen on the plant.
  • Pigments come as a and b, and both types complement each other in the task of absorbing light.
Accessory pigments Select 2

  • These pigment molecules absorb sunlight and conduct photosynthesis in algae, diatoms and bacteria.
  • Pigments give plants colors such as red, blue, violet and orange, but the colors are only evident in autumn.

How to reduce problems caused by carrying heavy schoolbags

Parents and other stakeholders in the education industry have had concerns about the weight of schoolbags and the effect these schoolbags have on developing spines. Musculoskeletal experts say that carrying heavy bags to school can lead to back problems in young adults, when the accumulated years of carrying heavy schoolbags start to manifest in the form of back pain. ∎

A study conducted by Voll and Klimt in 1977 proposed that the ideal weight for a student to carry on their backs should be 10 per cent of their weight, and this is still the recommended standard used today. However, studies now show that students often carry weights that are way above these recommended limits, some going as far as 42 per cent of their weight. The students who seem to always carry more weight are those who, in addition to their schoolbags, carry other bags such as sports bags, shoulder bags and clothing carry bags.

Carrying heavy weights on a daily basis has detrimental effects on the spine in school-going children, especially because their spines are still developing. Some of the major negative effects of carrying heavy schoolbags are musculoskeletal symptoms in the bilateral shoulder area and upper back, as well as pain in the lower back. In the long run, a child who develops a back problem is more likely to have to put up with more serious back problems in adulthood.

Thankfully, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of students developing back problems. ∎ The solution would have to be a three-pronged approach where parents, students and the school join hands to ensure that students only carry the least weight possible so as to save their backs from pain.

First, parents can make sure they only buy backpacks for their children. ∎ Backpacks are recommended by chiropractors everywhere because their design enables the student to carry the weight of books and other essentials close to the spine. Since the spine is the body’s center of gravity, the bag’s proximity to this area reduces strain on the student’s back. The backpack should also not be much larger than the wearer, and should have padded straps that are wide enough to spread the load. Having a waist belt is a bonus as it helps distribute some of the weight to the legs.

In addition, parents should make sure their children do not spend all their extra time playing videogames and watching TV. They should be encouraged to go out and engage in sports and play with their friends, because inactivity only makes the problem worse. ∎

For younger children, parents can help with packing their children’s bags to ensure the weight is always at or below the recommended 10 percent of body weight.

The school can help reduce this menace by providing lockers for all students. This way, students can leave some books and provisions at school, so they only have to carry the books they absolutely need to and from school, as well as between lessons. Some timetabling practices such as double lessons are also helpful because a student can carry one book for two sessions. Providing ample time for extracurricular activities in the school such as swimming and other sports also helps, because the students will exercise and reduce any problems caused by straining their backs.

Older students can ensure they only carry 10 percent of their body weight by making a habit of decluttering their bags on a regular basis and taking out everything they don’t need such as unused books. Carrying bags with multiple compartments and arranging their items in the bags such that the weight is evenly distributed helps, too. They should also make a list of all the essential things they need and only have what is on the list in their schoolbags.

Studies indicate that most students do carry backpacks as recommended, but that they hardly ever carry the bags on both shoulders. Carrying the bag on one shoulder has been equated to exercising one part of the body in the gym. This ultimately leads to unilateral-muscle loading, which then causes spinal compression when small muscles in the back tighten around the spine, thus leading to pain.  If the students decide to carry their backpack on one shoulder, they should make sure to switch shoulders from time to time. Alternatively, they can just carry the bag on both shoulders.

Factual Information Question

  1. According to paragraph 3, why does carrying heavy weights have detrimental effects on the spine in school-going children?
  • It makes them have back problems in the future
  • Because their spine is still developing
  • It causes musculoskeletal symptoms
  • It gives them an abnormal posture

It’s easy to come up with the right answer for this question because you only need to go straight to paragraph 3. So, before we help you answer this question, you should go back and reread that paragraph.

Have you done that?

Okay, now come back to the answers and go through them, using an elimination method to arrive at the right answer. Although answer 1 is correct, that information is not included in paragraph 3.

The third choice is too general, and the fourth choice has information not included anywhere in the passage.

The correct answer, therefore, is choice 2 because it actually quotes the information as it is in the passage.

Factual Information Question

  1. According to paragraph 3, why does carrying heavy weights have detrimental effects on the spine in school-going children?
  • To avoid pain that is caused by unilateral muscle loading
  • To exercise one side of the body
  • To reduce theft
  • To tighten the muscles around the spine

This is a pretty straightforward question, but the answers are a bit tricky so you’ll need to be careful. We’d like you to go through the answers first, then go back to the last paragraph and read it once more.

All done?

Let’s go through the choices together.

Choice 1 is correct because the passage says carrying a heavy schoolbag on one shoulder causes unilateral muscle loading.

Choice 2 contradicts choice one (which we have already understood to be correct), because exercising one side of the body causes pain to the spine.

Choice 3 includes information not included in the passage.

Choice 4 is wrong because the passage clearly states that when muscles tighten around the spine, pain will result.

Therefore, we know the correct answer here is the first answer.

Negative Factual Information Question

  1. According to paragraph 2, the following statements are true about the ideal weight students should carry EXCEPT:
  • Voll and Klimt proposed that the ideal weight for students should be 10 percent of body weight
  • The ideal weight recommended by Voll and Klimt in 1977 is still the ideal standard used today
  • Students who carry other bags in addition to their school bags tend to carry more than the recommended weight
  • Students can carry up to 42 percent of their body weight without much harm to their backs.

For this question we’ll need you to go through the answers and see if any of them are in disagreement with the passage.

Once you’ve done that, go to the 2nd paragraph and read it. The answer that is not consistent with the information there should be clear at this point and the right ones should be clear, too.

For example, it is true that Voll and Klimt proposed an ideal weight to be at most 10 percent of body weight. This is clear from the first sentence.

The correct answer here would be choice 4, because a load of 42 percent of body weight is way above the recommended limit.

Negative Factual Information Question

  1. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 6 about children playing sports versus spending all their extra time playing video games and watching TV?
  • They should spend all their extra time playing sports
  • Spending all their extra time playing video games and watching TV makes the problems caused by carrying heavy weights worse
  • It is okay to be inactive
  • They can watch TV all the time as long as they do so with friends

This question asks you to look for something not expressly stated in paragraph 6, but instead, is implied.

We’ll need you to go back and read paragraph 6 and pay close attention to hidden meanings.

Okay, now come back to the answers and go through each of them and decide which ones have a meaning which is contrary to the one being communicated by the author.

Going through the choices, we can see that choice 1 is wrong; the author says they should spend at least some of their extra time playing sports.

Choice 2 is correct because the passage states that spending all their extra time playing video games and watching TV makes the problems caused by carrying heavy bags worse.

Choice three contradicts the author’s message, as does choice 4, which leaves us with choice 2 as the correct answer.

Rhetorical Purpose Question

  1. Why does the author mention that some students carry as much as 42 percent of their body weight?
  • To show that students are capable of carrying a lot of weight
  • To demonstrate the seriousness of the problem in schools
  • To show parents that they need to start driving their children to school
  • To illustrate the many types of bags students need to have as schoolbags

Here, you’ll want to first go back to the passage and locate the highlighted text. Found it?

It’s in the second paragraph.

Now reread the whole paragraph and try to understand why the author includes the highlighted information.

This sentence states that some students carry much more weight than the recommended limits to demonstrate how grave the problem of carrying heavy weight to school is.

Now go through the answers and see which one summarizes this. The correct answer here would be choice 2.

Vocabulary Questions

  1. The phrase three-pronged approach in the passage is closest in meaning to
  • Solutions
  • Using a secret formula
  • Using three different methods
  • In a methodical manner

To answer this question, remember that you are not simply providing the meaning of this phrase. Rather, you are looking at its meaning given the context within which it has been used in the passage.

But first things first; let’s locate the phrase. It’s in the 4th paragraph. Were you able to find it?

Now take each of the provided answers and try reading the entire sentence to see if it still makes sense with the word used in the place of the highlighted phrase.

Using your knowledge of English as well as the general idea of the article, which choice do you think is closest in meaning?

The correct answer would be choice 3 because the word “pronged” here is used in relation to ways or methods.

Vocabulary Questions

  1. The word detrimental as used in the passage means
  • Positive
  • Adverse
  • Huge
  • Good

First, locate the highlighted word.

It’s in the 3rd paragraph.

This question involves locating the highlighted word and trying to replace it with each of the answers. The correct answer will be the choice that is closest in meaning to the highlighted word and can be used without changing the meaning of the passage.

For example, choice 1 is wrong because if used in the place of the word detrimental, it changes the meaning of the sentence entirely.

The correct answer is choice 2 because the word adverse can replace detrimental as a word, both of which mean ‘unfavorable.’ 

Reference Questions

  1. Older students can ensure they only carry 10 percent of their body weight by making a habit of decluttering their bags on a regular basis and taking out everything they don’t need such as unused books. Carrying bags with multiple compartments and arranging their items in the bags such that the weight is evenly distributed helps, too. They should also make a list of all the essential things they need and only have what is on the list in their schoolbags.

The word they in the passage refers to

  • School bags
  • Multiple compartments
  • Items
  • Older students

Here, you don’t need to go back to the passage. You only need to understand the question well.

Read the question again, and then read the excerpt, noting where the highlighted word is.

The word ‘they’ is a pronoun, meaning it is a word used to refer to something or someone mentioned elsewhere in the excerpt. In this case, the word refers to older students.

This is so because only a person would be able to make a list.

Choice 4 is, therefore, the right answer.

Sentence Simplification Question

  1. Passage ExcerptFirst, parents can make sure they only buy backpacks for their children. Backpacks are recommended by chiropractors everywhere because their design enables the student to carry the weight of books and other essentials close to the spine. Since the spine is the body’s center of gravity, the bag’s proximity to this area reduces strain on the student’s back. The backpack should also not be much larger than the wearer, and should have padded straps that are wide enough to spread the load. Having a waist belt is a bonus as it helps distribute some of the weight to the legs.Look at the 4 answers below. Identify the answer which most effectively matches the central information presented in the sentence highlighted above. The three other incorrect responses will either omit important information, or will alter the meaning considerably.
  • Carrying a bag close to the spine reduces the chance of injury to the spine
  • The spine is the strongest part of the body
  • A load carried close to the spine is light
  • A bag carried on the back is lighter than a bag carried on any other part of the body

In this question, take note that the instructions say the incorrect answers either alter the meaning considerably, or omit important information.

Read the excerpt included here while also remembering what the whole passage is all about.

Have you done that?

Okay, now go through the choices and see which answers either change the meaning or leave some information out.

Choice 2 is incorrect because it leaves out important information related to carrying a bag close to the body.

Choices 3 and 4 change the meaning of the original sentence. The original sentence does not say that loads close to the spine are lighter.

Choice 1 is the correct answer because it includes all relevant information and has the same essential meaning as the original sentence.

Sentence Simplification Question

  1. Examine the 4 square-marks [∎] in the text which signify the places in which the following sentence could possibly fit.The back pain can either be acute and last for less than three months, or chronic if it lasts for more than six months.Choose the place where you think the sentence would best fit:
  • Musculoskeletal experts say that carrying heavy bags to school can lead to back problems in young adults when the accumulated years of carrying heavy schoolbags start to manifest in the form of back pain. The back pain can either be acute and last for less than three months, or chronic if it lasts for more than six months.
  • Thankfully, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of students developing back problems. The back pain can either be acute and last for less than three months, or chronic if it lasts for more than six months.
  • They should be encouraged to go out and engage in sports and play with their friends, because inactivity only makes the problem worse. The back pain can either be acute and last for less than three months, or chronic if it lasts for more than six months.
  • First, parents can make sure they only buy backpacks for their children. The back pain can either be acute and last for less than three months, or chronic if it lasts for more than six months.

First, go back to the passage and try to locate the four squares.

Found them?

Now read the sentence in bold, and try to place it in each spot. The sentence must read correctly in the spot you place it. In this case, the sentence reads correctly when it’s used to discuss the types of pain young adults develop.

The correct answer is, therefore, choice 1.

Sentence Simplification Question

  1. You will find a sentence below these instructions which begins to summarize the reading passage above. Conclude this summary by choosing 3 of the 6 answers that best communicates the key concepts which are discussed in the passage. Be careful not to include answers which refer to ideas that are not discussed in the passage, or instead, are only insignificant points of no particular importance.This passage discusses the different ways that can be used to reduce the problems caused by carrying heavy school bags.
  1. In 1977, Voll and Klimt proposed that the ideal weight a school student should carry is a maximum of 10 percent of their body weight. This standard is still being used to date.
  2. Students who carry heavy bags during their school days develop problems in their early adulthood years when the effects of heavy schoolbags start to manifest in the way of back pain. The pain can be either acute, or chronic.
  3. The type of bag students carry determines whether or not they develop back pain. Any bag is ideal as long as it is carried close to the spine and on one shoulder.
  4. Students can solve their back pain problem all by themselves especially when they have a list of essentials they need to carry to school, and they regularly declutter their schoolbags.
  5. To avoid developing musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, students should learn to carry to school only that which they absolutely need in their schoolbags. Parents, too, have a role to play by buying only backpacks for schoolbags, and by ensuring their children are active.
  6. Musculoskeletal symptoms in the bilateral shoulder area and upper back, as well as pain in the lower back, are always caused by students carrying their heavy schoolbags on one shoulder.

This question is worth two points; that means it will need more work than the rest.

Instead of focusing on just one part of the passage, we will need you to focus on the whole passage.

You’ll want to first go through the entire passage taking note of the important points. Note them down somewhere if you must so that you have a general idea of what the passage is all about.

All done?

Let’s go through the sentences together.

Note that some of the sentences are either not relevant to the general theme of the passage, or they simply give incorrect information.

Choice 3 states that any bag is ideal, while the passage clearly identifies the backpack as the ideal schoolbag.

Choice 4 mentions that students can solve the problem by themselves, while the passage clearly says the problem should be solved with a three-pronged approach that includes efforts by students, parents and the school.

Choice 6 gives incorrect information. The last paragraph states that carrying bags on one shoulder leads to pain in the spine, not shoulders.

The correct answers are choices 1, 2 and 5 because they all include information that are both correct and useful to the general theme of the passage.

And that concludes our two sets of free TOEFL reading practice.

Now that we have introduced you to what writing the TOEFL iBT reading section looks like, we would suggest that you delve much more deeply into practicing for the test.

You see, the difference between those who do well and really well on the exam lies in the amount of practice they do for the exam.

If you could narrow down success on the TOEFL exam to two things, it would be mastering the note-taking process, and getting to know the test format inside and out through loads and loads of practice.

You can do both with the second of two options we suggest here.

 

Want to score 100+ on the TOEFL? Here’s how…