TOEFL Reading: What Skills Are Necessary?

The TOEFL iBT reading section takes about 60 – 90 minutes. This section tests your ability to read and understand English passages.

What kind of passages are given?

The reading passages are usually taken from academic text books. In terms of difficulty, they are no different from the passages students in their first and second year of university will have to study. The passages can deal with subjects like natural sciences, social sciences, arts and business. You don’t require any specific subject knowledge to do well in the reading test. Note that the reading section is designed to measure your ability to read and understand. It is not designed to test your expertise in a particular subject.

The two formats of TOEFL reading

The TOEFL reading section has two formats – the short format and the long format. If you get the short format, you will have to read three passages. You will get about 20 minutes to read each passage. There will be about 12-14 questions on each passage. The short format takes about 60 minutes.

If you have the long format, you can get up to 5 passages. The long format takes about 100 minutes. There are about 10 types of questions in the reading section. Familiarity with each type of question is essential to score well.

What skills are necessary?

Certain reading strategies are essential to improve your score. For example, you should be able to read fast, skim, scan and summarize the given passage. You must also be able to make inferences and use context. Good note-taking and synthesizing skills are also necessary.