Reading comprehension: how to perform well?

The passages given for reading on the TOEFL test are not exactly simple. They may contain complex or unfamiliar ideas. Here are a few tips for performing well on the TOEFL reading test.

Read actively

Think while you read. If you read passively, you may not be able to comprehend the complex ideas expressed in the passage. By reading actively, you will be able to relate all the ideas. Active reading is not skimming. Some TOEFL instructors advise their student to skim the passage before they read the questions. Of course, skimming is helpful and good skimming skills are absolutely essential when you have to read a long passage in a short time. But the first reading has to be more thorough because you will not be able to grasp the complex ideas by just glancing over the passage.

Before reading the first question read the passage once thoroughly and quickly. Try to identify the main idea and supporting points expressed in the passage. Think about what the writer is trying to establish by writing the passage. Use context to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words.

Follow the cohesive devices

Cohesive devices are certain words and expressions writers employ to ensure the smooth flow of ideas between the sentences and paragraphs. They are very important words because they convey ideas such as addition, contrast, possibility, condition etc. if you do not pay attention to these phrases, you will not be able to make a logical connection between sentences.

While reading the passage, do not waste time trying to find the meaning of unfamiliar words. Guess them using context. Even if you can’t guess the meaning of some words, don’t worry too much about them. Leave them and continue reading. Remember that you don’t have to understand every detail given in the passage to answer the questions.