On the paper TOEFL test, the third section is called Reading Comprehension. This section consists of five passages and fifty questions (although some tests may be longer). You have fifty-five minutes to complete the fifty questions in this section. There is only one type of question in the Reading Comprehension section of the paper TOEFL test: Multiple-Choice questions ask you to select the best answer to questions about the information given in the reading passages. A multiple-choice question on the paper test may ask about the main ideas, directly answered details, indirectly answered details, vocabulary, or overall review ideas. The questions on the paper test are presented in linear order. The passages progress from easy to difficult, and the questions are presented in the order in which they appear in the passage.
General Strategies For Reading
- Be familiar with the directions. The directions on every paper TOEFL test are the same, so it is not necessary to spend time reading the directions carefully when you take the test. You should be completely familiar with the directions before the day of the test.
- Do not spend too much time reading the passages. You do not have time to read each passage in depth, and it is quite possible to answer the questions correctly without first reading the passages in depth.
- Do not worry if a reading passage is on a topic you are unfamiliar with. All of the information that you need to answer the questions is included in the passages. You do not need any background knowledge to answer the questions.
- Do not spend too much time on a question you are unsure of. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply guess and go on. You can return to this question later in the section if you have time.
- Guess to complete the section before time is up. There is no penalty for guessing, so it can only increase your score to guess the answers to questions that you do not have time to complete.
PROCEDURES FORA READING PASSAGE
- Skim the reading passage to determine the main idea and the overall organization of ideas in the passage. You do not need to understand every detail in each passage to answer the questions correctly. It is therefore a waste of time to read the passage with the intent of understanding every single detail before you try to answer the questions.
- Look ahead at the questions to determine what language skills are being tested in the questions. Questions related to different language skills are answered in different ways. Find the section of the passage that deals with each question. The language skill tells you exactly where to look in the passage to find correct answers. (1) For main idea questions, look at the first line of each paragraph. (2) For directly and indirectly answered detail questions, choose a key word in the question, and skim for that key word (or a related idea) in order in the passage. (3) For pronoun questions, the question will tell you where the pronoun is located in the passage. (4) For transition questions, look at the beginning or the end of the passage. (5) For vocabulary questions, the question will tell you where the word is located in the passage. (6) For where-in-the-passage questions, the answer choices give you the four possible locations of the correct answer. (7) For tone, purpose, and course questions, look at the first line of each paragraph.
- Read the part of the passage that contains the answer carefully. The answer will probably be in a very predictable place in the passage.
- Choose the best answer to each question from the four choices listed in your test book. You can choose the best answer according to what is given in the appropriate section of the passage, eliminate definitely wrong answers, and mark your best guess on the answer sheet.
Phillips, Deborah. 2001. Longman Complete Course for the TOEF Test: Preparation for the Computer and Paper Tests