TOEFL Reading: Section details, Question Types, Score, Preparation Tips and More

    Rachita Mitra Rachita Mitra
    Content Curator

    TOEFL reading is the first section of TOEFL and it tests the candidates’ ability to read and understand a passage and answer the questions based on it. This section is less complicated compared to other sections as TOEFL reading is solely based on reading skills. Let’s have an understanding of this section in detail.

    TOEFL Reading Test – Description

    In the TOEFL reading section, a candidate has to read 3-4 passages and answer the questions followed by the passage in a specific time. To be more specific, the Reading section of TOEFL will have:

    TOEFL Reading Passage Details

    According to ETS, the reading passages will mainly be the excerpts from the textbooks of any university-based programs. The passages can be introductions to any discipline or any topic of any subject.

    TOEFL IBT reading topics are not limited to any discipline though. Specifically, the passages can be much diverse; however, the main topics of the passages can be:

    • Humanities/arts
    • Profession or business-oriented
    • Science (Physic, Chemistry, and biology-related)
    • Social Science

    Each of these subjects can contain a huge variety of subjects, which is tabulated below:

    HumanitiesBusinessScienceSocial science
    American HistoryMarketingArchitectureAnthropology
    American LiteraturePublic RelationsTechnologyEconomics
    ArtCommunicationAnatomyPolitical Science
    Art History-AstronomyPsychology
    North American Art-Medicine-
    World History-Physics-

    The candidates of TOEFL can check the best TOEFL reading practice papers to know more about the subjects from each genre.

    Difficulty Level of the Passages

    ETS has mentioned that the candidates do not need to worry even though they are not very familiar with the topic of the passage because the candidates will not need to show their knowledge of the topic from any external sources!

    Rather, the candidates will get everything that is needed to answer the questions in the passage itself. But, yes, a strong vocabulary will help the candidate to understand the passage easily. Reading comprehension TOEFL IBT practice familiarizes the candidates with the difficulty level of the passages.

    TOEFL Reading Section: Question Types

    10 questions of each passage include the questions of the following types:

    TOEFL Reading Questions

    TOEFL reading practice PDF helps the candidates to understand TOEFL reading tasks in detail. TOEFL practice test reading comprehension sometimes comes with a solved answer. These can help the candidates a lot.

    All these questions are multiple-choice and worth 1-3 points. Most of the questions are single answer MCQ where only one option will be correct. These questions carry 1 point. Plus, there are ‘reading to learn” type questions that carry 2-3 points. Partial marking is possible here.

    Updates in the reading section

    According to the updates made by the conducting authority of ETS in august 2019, the candidates will be given:

    • 3-4 reading passages
    • The fourth one will be an optional and ungraded only if it is given; it will be an experimental type
    • Time for the exam: 54 minutes in the case of 3 passages and 74 minutes in the case of 4 passages.
    • Each passage will be followed by 9-10 questions.
    • The 10th question will be a “fill the table” question.

    The difficulty level of the passages will be the same. Latest TOEFL reading samples PDF can give an idea of it

    TOEFL Reading Score Calculation

    The score of TOEFL reading section is first calculated to get the raw score. TOEFL reading raw score is the points the candidates obtain for giving correct answers. TOEFL reading raw score range is 0-45. These raw scores of the reading section are converted to get the TOEFL reading scaled score. In the following table, the equivalent scaled scores of TOEFL reading raw score are listed:

    TOEFL Reading Raw ScoreTOEFL Reading Scaled Score
    45, 4430
    43, 42, 4129
    40, 3928
    38, 3727
    35, 3425
    13, 122
    11, 101
    9 and below0

    To understand TOEFL reading score conversion process, take a TOEFL reading practice test, which is available online. TOEFL reading flash PDF free download also enables the candidates to take reading tests TOEFL free. Calculate the raw score based on the number of correct answers and find its equivalent scaled score from this table.

    Remember, the TOEFL reading scaled score is the sectional score for TOEFL reading and it is used at the time of calculating the overall TOEFL score.

    Importance of Securing High Score in TOEFL Reading

    As this section is easier and the candidates don’t have to apply much of their effort to answer the questions, it is better to secure a higher score in TOEFL reading. To meet the minimum score requirements of the foreign universities, securing a higher score in TOEFL reading is very important.

    The following graph shows the male-female, average score comparison as per the report of 2017 and 2018.

    Male Female Reading Mean Score Comparison

    In 2017, the Reading Mean Score of the males was higher, compared to the rest 3 sections. On the other side, the Mean Score of the writing section was the highest for the females in 2017. In 2018, the Mean Score of males was highest compared to the rest of the 3 sections. But in the same year, females obtained the highest in speaking and writing sections.

    Among the males, those who are appearing in TOEFL for admission in a non-business masters’ degree program had scored the maximum 22.6. Reading Mean Score of the females who appeared to get enrolled in similar non-business programs was highest compared to the rest of the sections.

    TOEFL Reading Mean Score Comparison

    Now, moving on to the average score of Indian students, as per the report of 2018, Indian students on an average had secured 23 in the reading section, which is nonetheless good. The reading score for 2017 is the same. It is not wrong, to sum up, that the higher your score in the reading section, the higher your overall TOEFL score will be.

    TOEFL Reading Practice Tips

    TOEFL reading tips are needed to crack this exam with a high score and following are some of the strategies in that purpose:

    • Don’t read the entire passage, rather, read the first line of each paragraph
    • Check the questions and answer the definition and vocabulary types which can be answered without reading
    • Read that paragraph and write the answer
    • Move on to the remaining questions and remember the first lines to find out which paragraph has its answer

    These tricks along with lots of others are available in TOEFL reading question types and strategies PDF. So, it’s not that difficult to get a high score in TOEFL reading. All you need to read faster and answer the questions in the least possible time.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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