Exams Know-how

TOEFL Reading Section: Tips, Strategies, Scores and Questions of TOEFL Reading

Yocket Editorial Team

The first section that you come across in the TOEFL Exam is the Reading Section. If the reading section is solved well, you will enter a comfortable zone and feel more at ease knowing that you have set the right tone from the first section itself.

No doubt, the TOEFL Reading does contain some tricky questions, but with the right techniques and practice, you can crack this section with an outstanding score.

Through this article, you will learn about the question types covered under TOEFL Reading and also, the tips and strategies to solve them competently.

Overview of TOEFL Reading    

Number of Questions  

30 - 40 questions

Time Duration

54 - 72 minutes

Reading Passages

3 - 4 passages

Score Range

0 - 30

Type of Questions

Multiple Choice Questions


The TOEFL Reading section is curated in order to evaluate your ability to comprehend passages taken from University-level textbooks. The passages are taken from a variety of academic subjects such as Science, Humanities, Social Science, etc. but don’t worry, you need not have a mastery over these topics to tackle the questions. All the relevant information regarding those topics is provided in the passages and is enough for the students to solve the questions.

According to ETS, there are 3 to 4 reading passages of 700 words each that comprise the Reading Section. Each of these passages are followed by its own set of 10 Multiple Choice Questions. You are given 54 minutes (3 passages) or 72 minutes (4 passages) to read all the passages and thereby answer the questions that follow.    

In case you get stuck on a question, the TOEFL iBT test allows you to skip that particular one and come back to it at a later time. But you must remember to go back and answer those questions before the time runs out for answering the Reading section.

TOEFL Reading Section Question Types

The question types in TOEFL Reading Section are designed to assess the reading and information analysis abilities. It is essential for the test takers to get a better understanding of all the question types in order to effectively solve them.

So, let’s take a closer look at the different types of questions covered under TOEFL Reading:  

1. Factual Information                    

To answer this question type, you are required to analyze the given information and recognize explicitly stated facts or details in the passage. These facts could be in the form of Major ideas, Supporting details or Definitions.

You are given 4 answer choices to choose from. Out of these, you are usually required to pick one answer or sometimes even two. In the latter case, you will be informed that the answers are worth one point only.

How are Factual Information questions phrased?       

Under this question type, you will get phrases like:

  • Paragraph 2 mentions which of the following about Y?

  • According to paragraph 1, which of the following is true about X?

  • According to paragraph 3, how did X determine Y?  

  • According to paragraph 4, why did X do Y?

2. Negative Factual Information

Negative Factual questions are similar to Factual Information questions, but under this question type, you have to determine which answer option is ‘FALSE’. You get four answer options, out of which three are true and one is false.

It may also ask you to identify which fact is ‘NOT’ mentioned in the passage. Basically, this type of question will contain the words ‘EXCEPT’ or ‘NOT’ in the prompt.   

How are Negative Factual Information questions phrased?   

Under this question type, you will get phrases like:

  • According to paragraph 1, which of the following is NOT true?

  • The author mentions all of the following EXCEPT…  

3. Inference

Inference is a conclusion reached based on evidence and reasoning. Thus, in this question type, you are required to identify the most likely conclusion by analysing the information given in the passage. You basically have to comprehend an idea that is not explicitly stated in the passage. It is easy to identify this question type as it includes the words such as, ‘Infer’, ‘Suggest’ or ‘Imply’.

How are Inference questions phrased?

Under this question type, you will get phrases like:

  • Which of the following can be inferred about X? 

  • Paragraph 1 suggests which of the following about Y?

  • Which of the following is probably true? 

  • What is implied about X?   

4. Rhetorical Purpose

Under this question type, you are asked to pick an answer option that best explains the reasoning behind the mentioned part of the text. Rhetorical purpose questions are similar to Inference questions, but it asks ‘WHY’ the author presents a particular piece of information instead of the most likely conclusion. 

In order to solve this question type, you need to understand the main point of the paragraph and how the given information is related to it.

How are Rhetorical Purpose questions phrased?        

Under this question type, you will get phrases like:       

  • In paragraph 1, why does the author mention X?

  • Why does the author include a description of Y?

  • Which of the following best explains the way paragraph 2 is organized?

  • The author mentions X for which of the following reasons?

5. Reading Vocabulary

In this question type, you are given a word or phrase from the passage for which you have to select a similar word from the given options. There will be four answer options of which you are required to pick the word closest in meaning to the word or phrase in the question.

How are Reading Vocabulary questions phrased?

Under this question type, test takers will get phrases like the following:

  • The word X in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to…

  • The phrase Y in the passage is closest in meaning to...

6. Sentence Simplification

This question type tests your ability to paraphrase and summarize information without changing its meaning. You can easily identify sentence simplification questions as a sentence is always highlighted in the passage. You are required to identify a sentence that has the same meaning as the sentence given in the question.

How are Sentence Simplification questions phrased?

Under this question type, you will get a phrase like:

  • Which of the following best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence?  

7. Insert Text

The insert text question types measure your ability to recognize logical and grammatical connections between sentences. You get a statement in the question for which you have to select a suitable place in the passage. There are usually 4 black squares in the passage, which denote the possible locations for sentence in question. Of these you are meant to select a location where the statement best fits in.

How are Insert Text questions phrased?

Under Insert Text questions, test takers will get a phrase like:

  • Where would the sentence best fit? Click on a square to add the sentence to the passage. 

8. Prose Summary 

Exactly as the word summary suggests, you are required to choose the options that best explain the summary of the given passage. You get a statement in the question on basis of which you have to complete the summary. There will be six answer options, out of which you are required to pick three answer options that best summarize the main ideas of the given statement.

How are Prose Summary questions phrased?

Under these question types, you will get a phrase like:  

  • An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage.

Further, check out this video that covers the actionable tips and tricks to score well in the TOEFL reading section.

Strategies to Ace TOEFL Reading

You must have a plan of action in place before you start to solve the TOEFL Reading Section. This will help you answer the questions swiftly with confidence.

Here are a few strategies students might like to refer in order to ace the TOEFL Reading Section:

Plan your approach:

Decide in advance how you want to approach TOEFL reading passages. Whether you want to read the passage first or go through the questions before reading the passage. Thus, have a plan in mind regarding your approach.

Read the passage quickly:

It is recommended to skim through the passage in less than four minutes. By doing this, you will get enough time to solve the questions asked at the end of passages.

Identify the question type:

Identifying type of question you’re answering will help you solve it quickly and correctly. Thus, develop a good understanding of different question types to effectively recognize them.

Be time conscious:

Do not lose track of time while answering the questions. Effectively plan and manage your time for solving each question. Figure out how long it should take to solve a particular question depending on the question type. 

Take notes:

Identify key phrases in the passage while reading through it. By making note of these key phrases, you can find relevant information in the passage faster and easier while answering.

Eliminate the wrong options:

Eliminate one or two choices completely before picking your answer option. By doing this, you will get a 50% chance of picking the correct answer option.

Preparation Tips for TOEFL Reading

It is given that you need to practice as much as possible in order to efficiently crack the TOEFL Reading section. But, practicing with the right study plan will help you achieve your goal score. Also, the study plan must be based on your strengths and weaknesses in order to overall improve and master the Reading section altogether.

With that being said, let's take a look at some tips to prepare for TOEFL Reading:

Develop your reading speed:

Make a habit of reading faster and complex English passages in less time than you took to read earlier. Time yourself when you study for the test and note down how much time you are consuming to read every passage. Improve this gradually while making your reading pace faster than before.

Develop an extensive vocabulary:

You can improve and build an extensive vocabulary by making a list of unfamiliar words and finding its meanings using an English-to-English dictionary. It is very important for students to build their vocabulary in order to ace the TOEFL Reading Section.  

Read a variety of English language material:

To improve your reading skills and speed, read other English language material as well apart from studying TOEFL style academic passages. Read a variety of subject area materials, such as science, arts, social science, business, etc. Also, be sure to read English Newspapers, Literature, Magazines, etc during your TOEFL preparation days to get well-versed with your reading skills.

Practice is the ultimate key to success:

Students are recommended to practice as many TOEFL practice tests as they can. This will develop their techniques to solve the variety of question types in the TOEFL Reading.

You can refer to the following free Practice Tests provided by the ETS:

While focused towards achieving outstanding scores in TOEFL Reading, you must try to master your English reading skills and speed. Other than these two aspects, time management largely affects the overall performance and can make or break your TOEFL Reading Score.

We suggest the students take ample practice tests, strengthen their vocabulary and read a variety of English language materials. Lastly, we encourage you to push yourselves, get rolling and demonstrate your excellent English reading skills!    


Frequently Asked Questions by Students on TOEFL Reading

Where can I practice Reading TOEFL?

What is a good reading score in TOEFL?

How do I pass the TOEFL reading section?   

Is TOEFL reading hard?

How many types of passages are there in reading comprehension?

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