How to score well in TOEFL Reading

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    TOEFL exam is given by all the aspirants who plan to study in English native countries and need to demonstrate their efficiency in the English language through this test. The international students need to make their decisions while planning to study in the English native countries as some universities or institutions accept TOEFL  while some others accept IELTS. The kind of test depends upon the program in which the candidate is applying. Mostly the international students give the TOEFL exam, once they have decided to study in the USA; there are two versions of the TOEFL exam including TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT.


    TOEFL iBT exam is conducted in an online mode where the candidates have to give the test using the Internet at designated testing sites. The candidates must have the basic typing skills to complete the test within the time limit. This test is conducted to judge the candidates’ writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills and the test is organized throughout the year across different locations. It takes almost 3-4 hours to complete the test.


    TOEFL PBT exam is conducted in an offline mode where the candidates have to give the exam in a paper and pencil format. This exam is also conducted to measure the candidates’ listening, reading, writing and grammar skills. This exam is conducted only in those areas where there is non-availability of the Internet, it takes almost 2.5 hours to complete.

    TOEFL Exam Pattern

    TOEFL exam pattern includes four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. The candidates are advised to practice more and more, to get a good TOEFL score. The more they practice TOEFL Sample Papers, they will be able to score high marks in the test. The exam pattern of TOEFL is fixed by the ETS which is the conducting body that governs this exam. The result of TOEFL scores will be declared online 10 days post the commencement of the test, the total score comprises of the sum of the scores of all the four skill areas.

    SectionQuestion DurationTasks
    ReadingQuestions: 30–40 questions
    Duration: 54–72 minutes
    The candidates will be asked to read 3 or 4 passages from the academic texts and answering them based on the questions asked.
    ListeningQuestions: 28-38
    Duration: 41-57 minutes
    The candidates need to listen to lectures, conversations, classroom discussions, and, then answer questions based on them.
    SpeakingQuestions: 4 tasks
    Duration: 17 minutes
    Candidates need to express their opinion on a particular topic familiar to them and speak based on reading and listening tasks.
    WritingQuestions: 2 tasks
    Duration: 50 minutes
    The candidates have to write essay responses based on reading and listening tasks, along with supporting the opinion in writing.

    Ways to score well in the TOEFL reading section

    TOEFL test has four sections and scoring well in each section is equally important to boost your chances of getting admission into a university located in an English native country. In this article, we are discussing the best of the TOEFL reading tips that will help you to increase score in the test. There is a lot of academic vocabulary asked in the TOEFL, and the vocabulary in the Reading section is especially advanced.

    Use comprehension strategies to understand new vocabulary and difficult passages

    Word lists are helpful but they are not that much helpful in telling the whole story. You will always discover some words on the TOEFL which you might have not seen or read before and even you might not remember the meaning of some of these words as well. But do score well in TOEFL you need to overcome vocabulary roadblocks by using context clues and should make an effort to understand the complete meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or passage. When you are unable to understand the exact meaning of individual words, you can read the whole paragraph or sentence to broaden your knowledge. Try to identify the main ideas in a TOEFL Reading passage as it will help you a lot in guessing the meaning of difficult words and phrases in each paragraph supporting details.

    Balance reading the passage with answering questions

    Many candidates appearing for TOEFL test make the mistake of reading the whole passage first before answering any question. This kind of technique can waste your valuable time as in case you are reading the entire passage before considering the questions, then you are not paying attention to some of the right details for each question. Reading the entire paragraph before reading the questions will arise the need to cross-check the passage for answers once again. Instead, you should look at the questions first and then check the passage accordingly for answers. Another time-saving option is that you can read the passage paragraph by paragraph, and start answering the questions for a paragraph as soon as you finish reading it.

    Be aware of your pace

    You need to be more time-conscious while appearing for TOEFL reading and you should spend almost 20 minutes on each passage and question set. This way you will get almost 1 minute 25 seconds time to answer each question, you should rather try to finish each question within a minute so that you can go back and check your answers for each question set.

    Learn to practice using a timer

    You have to complete the TOEFL test within 60 minutes so it will be quite a challenging task. After each reading passage, the candidates will find 12-14 questions about the text; they will get 60 minutes to read almost 2100 words (700 words per passage) and answer 40 questions (12-14 questions per passage). Reading 2100 words and answering 40 questions in 60 minutes is not an easy task, the only way to do it within the time period is by practicing more. You can simply keep a timer on your computer or phone as it will be a good exercise to manage the time yourself while you do TOEFL Reading Practice questions. This way you will also be able to understand how much time you are taking in answering all the questions, as some questions might longer to answer as compared to others.

    You need to study the same test more than once

    Most of the TOEFL takers fall into the practice trap, the test takers believe that the best way to score high in the TOEFL exam is to do more TOEFL practice tests but this will never reflect what they have learned. That is why all the TOEFL students are encouraged to study as per the specific plan which is known as the PARA Framework.

    • P – Plan
    • A – Act
    • R – Reflect
    • A – Adjust

    Under this plan, giving a practice step is just a single test while preparing for TOEFL, the candidates must also spend a significant amount of time planning, reflecting and adjusting. It is important that the candidates must understand what all they have done right and what are the areas that need improvement. You must plan on taking the same test 1-2 weeks after the first time you did it, through this way you will be able to judge what all you have learned and ensure that you won’t make the same kind of mistakes twice.

    Read in English as much and as often as you can

    Try to read texts on a variety of topics which includes:

    • Reading both academic and non-academic materials.
    • Read about the subjects in which you are interested and at the same time reading those as well that are of no interest to you.

    Write basic questions to test your understanding of a text.

    • You can write a few questions and answers about the first paragraph, then think about what the examiner can ask in the next paragraph.

    Use your grammar to understand difficult sections of a passage

    • You need to establish a relationship between independent and dependent clauses.
    • Consider those words that refer back to some information given in a previous section of the text.
    • Look for the pronouns in the paragraph and find the nouns that they refer to.
    • Also look for the relative pronouns (who, that, which, whom, whose) that are used in the adjective clauses.

    Candidates preparing for TOEFL need to expand their vocabulary knowledge as it is important to get a high TOEFL score in the reading section, the candidates will be asked to read about various topics at university. Start managing your time effectively especially in case you are preparing for the TOEFL test, time yourself when you start preparing for the test and note how long it is taking to complete the entire TOEFL reading section.

    Summary: The Key to Give TOEFL Reading Test like a pro!!

    The students find the TOEFL Reading section quite challenging as they need to read and analyze a lot of English in a shorter period of time. The candidates must take steps to prepare accordingly for the test while studying the TOEFL Reading section, the students need to give more practice tests, read academic texts, boost their vocabulary skills, and look for their weaker areas as well. On the day of the exam., always remember to pace yourself and rather than getting stuck on one question, you need to move to the next question so that you don’t waste your time at all.

    Rest stay motivated and prepare according to the TOEFL exam pattern!!



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