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Overall Reading Strategies for TOEFL

published by sid kumar

tags: toefl reading, (all tags)

origin: Overall Reading Strategies for TOEFL (

Overall Reading Strategies

During my test preparation time, I've found some reading strategies useful. Check whether these are useful for you or not:

1. Before going to the 1st question, just check out the beginning of every paragraph. This will make an overall idea about the organization. Don't use more than 30sec for this

2. Answer the reference questions first (Vocabulary/Word reference, Pronoun reference, Highlighted sentence, Sentence Insertion etc.) - To answer these questions, most of the time, you will not have to read any other sentence than the indicated one. Therefore, these are time savers. A little information about the sentence insertion question is that, read the given sentence very carefully. If it starts with a pronoun, then identify to what it may refer to. Go to the passage and check the sentences preceding the insertion boxes. Think whether the pronoun of the given sentence can refer to the subject (or idea) presented in this sentence. Even if the given sentence does not start with a pronoun, usually you will be able to identify where to insert the sentence by reading only 9 sentences (Given sentence + the sentence before each box + the sentence after each box). However, generally, you'll need much lesser reading than this.

3. Now go for the inference type questions (and any other types of questions not indicated in this post). Try to stick into the paragraph if it is mentioned. If not, the knowledge on overall organization of the essay (got in step 1) will help here. If that also fails, check out where the previous and next question came from. It is most likely that the answer of this question falls in between the answers of the previous and next question. I named this method as "TOEFL Sandwich". Read the middle part of the sandwich carefully and answer the question.

4. Now go for the "Except" type questions. These questions generally take more time because it needs searching for 4 different information. Going through step 3 will already reduce a lot of works, i.e. you have read a lot of things already. Now, first, read each answer choice and then find related information from the passage and decide whether you need to consider this choice or need to refute it. Using this approach, I've found these questions answerable in very short time.

5. Now, go for the summary/Classify type questions. If you forget about the organization of the passage by this time and if there is about 3~4 mins left (not less than it),repeat step 1. When answering the summary questions, do not take an answer only because you have read that in the passage. Take only those answers which represent a broader idea than others. Of course, the ideas have to be true i.e. should match the ideas presented in the passage. I've found that small sentences are generally not a correct answer, however, I shall not suggest to make a decision based on this. In classification type questions, you may have to go to and fro the passage and the question but before doing that, remember to read ALL the answer choices carefully and to classify the choices that you already know.

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Aravind kumar (30/04/12 10:34)

Hi Sid,
Appretiate your take(and strategising) on how to go around on answering questions on the D-Day, very useful tips. Recomnd all to go through these twice..thrice or until you get the essence of what Sid tried to share.

Warm Regards,

DiKaKo (17/05/12 06:15)

Yes, I liked it indeed. TOEFL is in fact a test that is based mostly on strategy and less on how good your English is in reality. Of course, one still has to possess a good command of the language

Hiteck (13/06/12 23:58)

Good strategies I must say. You are not far from the truth. I have actually discovered same while preparing for the test and wish
to recommend it to others.

supriya jassal (25/06/12 04:08)

ritesh (05/07/12 02:25)

thanks good strategies

neda ros (25/08/12 02:58)


rupal patel (11/09/12 03:38)

alfred robinson (11/09/12 13:37)

Nice on man..
My TOEFL Examination is on the 17th of November 2012, Metropolitan College of New York need the TOEFL result to give me admission to study in New York City NYC, i already have English but i am still working hard in making perfection in every angle of it. This is a nice tip, i am glad.

kemi adesweet (19/09/12 15:53)

nice one, i noticed it too but was tooo scared to try it out, my exam is next month, i ll adopt your strategy tooo

pooja patil (07/02/14 05:20)

thanks alot i find reading boring hope this strategies will help me

Norbert (14/11/15 02:52)

salam duste aziz.mamnunam az rahnamyi haye madrake foghe lisans dar reshteye physics daram,mikham vase PhD apply konam.soale man ineke ehtemal dare kasi be khatere nadashtane mokalemeye khube zabane english dar mosahebe, pazirofte nashe?mamnunam az shoma be khatere vaghti ke baraye ma gozashtid.movafagh bashid.

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