Tips for Improving Your TOEFL Reading Score

Not quite yet at your target score for TOEFL Reading? To increase your score, there are several things you can do. Here are some techniques and advice.

  1. Consider balancing the time for reading the passage with answering questions

Typical TOEFL test-takers make the error of first readingthe entire text before responding to any TOEFL questions.This canwaste precious time.You’re not going to pay attention to the correct information for eachquestion if you read the whole passage before you look at any questions.You will then have to goback and check the passage for double-checking.

Instead, try one of three strategies for reading a TOEFL passage. You could look at the questions first and then check the passage for answers. Or you might skim the passage for main ideas before you reading the questions and checking for answers. Another option is to read the passage paragraph by paragraph, answering the questions for a paragraph as soon as you finish reading it. (In TOEFL Reading, each paragraph has its own subset of questions.)

  1. Pay attention to your pacing

TOEFL Reading is the only section of the TOEFL that has no listening tracks and no time limits per question. So you’ll need to be very time-conscious. Remember that you should spend about 20 minutes on each passage and question set. This gives you about 1 minute and 25 seconds per question. But it’s probably better to aim for just one minute per question. That way, you’ll have time to go back and check your answers for each question set.

  1. Comprehension strategies can come in handy to understand new vocabulary and difficult passages

Word lists are helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story. You will always find some words on the TOEFL that you haven’t seen before, or don’t remember the meaning of.

Find ways to overcome vocabulary road blocks by using context clues. And make an effort to understand the whole meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or passage, even when you don’t understand individual words. Learn to identify the main ideas in a TOEFL Reading passage — this will help you guess at the meaning of difficult words and phrases in each paragraph’s supporting details.

  1. Enrichyour Academic Word List

There is a lot of academic vocabulary on the TOEFL, and the vocabulary in the Reading section is especially advanced. Improving academic vocabulary skills is an important aspect of any language study at university level. Academic vocabulary can be seen everywhere: in textbooks, journals, lecture handouts, exam papers, essays, assignments, etc. However, vocabulary skills do not improve simply through a natural, effortless process; one has to be as ‘active’ as possible in dealing with vocabulary, right from the start.

The harder you work on your vocabulary, and the more actively you study, the better your assignments will be, and the more efficient your reading will be too. So the rewards from studying vocabulary are considerable.

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