Know TOEFL Reading Question Types Inside Out

Have you ever run out of time on the TOEFL reading section?

If you know the question types inside out, you can master the technique of how to identify each question to answer quickly, and you’ll beat the test.

Time Management and Focus

You’ll need to manage a new approach to organize your minutes more effectively during this section of the exam. Better management of your time will give you the opportunity to answer more questions correctly, thus leading to a higher section score.

Reading skill is tested on three sections of the TOEFL, so if you improve your English reading speed and comprehension with daily practice such as reading timed online academic articles, skimming, scanning, note-taking and paraphrasing, you’ll improve your overall TOEFL score.

The time is 60-100 minutes in the entire reading section with 36-70 questions of three academic passages of 600-800 words each. You’ll need to manage time of 20 minutes per passage. All topics focus on college subjects, so in your daily study time, practice academic texts of equal word count length in a similar time-frame. All questions are one point, except the last question in each passage set worth more than one point. Do not spend too much time on any one question. Use equal time to identify the answer, since they are all the same amount of points; and if needed, use process of elimination to narrow down the correct choice.

Of the four academic sections tested on TOEFL—reading, listening, speaking, writing–reading is the first skill tested. Since it’s the initial section, it may still be noisy at the test center with incoming test takers. So, you’ll need to focus attentively to not be distracted by surrounding noise. If you find yourself getting distracted by surround sound, put those headphones on to help block out the test center environment so you can zoom in on the reading content.

Accuracy in Skimming for Gist and Speed in Scanning for Details

Skimming the passage is useful to find the main idea in the first paragraph and pinpoint the meaning and to look for the key points (in key words) in the first sentences of body paragraphs. Once you have skimmed for the gist of the passage, begin to tackle the questions. Another technique, scanning, is also helpful. By scanning the question (key words) and referring back to the exact location in the passage, you can note specific details in order of what will be questioned. Your plan of attack can be to answer question by question in order, as questions will refer to the same order as the location of answers in the passage.

 

The Importance of Recognizing Question Types

Have you ever felt stumped on a reading question and lost time? Do you know how to recognize and answer all different types of passage questions?

What’s more, knowing the types of questions you will encounter and identifying each type of question on the reading section will help you answer correctly and speed you through each passage in a timely manner.

Try to wrap your head around the different types of reading questions in your preparation study, thus inching you closer to the highest section score on exam day.

 

Reading Question Types:

Vocabulary

Sentence meaning

Sentence insertion

Stated or unstated details  – Factual and negative factual information

Inferences and rhetorical purpose

OrganizationProse summary and fill in a table

Pronoun reference

You’ll be asked what a highlighted word refers to. If it is a pronoun, you need to identify the word the pronoun is replacing i.e. know what each pronoun refers to in the passage. Most often, the words are subject or objective pronoun, demonstrative pronouns or possessive adjectives (it, they, them, these, those, this, that, its, their.)

Question Types Strength and Weakness:

How can you improve your speed and accuracy in answering questions?

Question types that are your strength, you’ll answer more quickly, and question types that are your weakness, you’ll take a longer time to respond to.

Thus, identify your strength in questions type above (which ones you answer correctly in past exams or practice) and your weakness (which ones are challenging that take longer to answer or that you got wrong on past practice or exams.)

Your Strength question types: _____________________________________________

Reflect on how you’ll identify these faster and answer faster:

_____________________________________________________________________________

Your Weakness question types: ____________________________________________

Consider how to improve on these with a new/different approach in practice and on the real test.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Tackle each weakness question type by addressing how to change your approach to answer correctly. For instance, do not use the same approach as you did before if you got those wrong. Consider what you could be doing better to improve speed and accuracy.  Once you figure out how to answer correctly, approach the weak question types by process of elimination, and take notes of those question numbers and your choice response(s), as you can go back to those later if you have a bit of time. If you use process of elimination, you’ll eliminate choices for a higher percentage rate. In study time, practice more of those types of questions to get ready with your new approach.

If you aim to answer 100% correct on your strength question types on practice questions, you’ll save time by going quickly through your strength question types with added confidence.

For more tips on how to approach answering each type of reading question type, stay tuned for strategy and details in upcoming posts. If you learned insight about reading question types in this post, give this post a thumbs up.

Improve English to Score High on TOEFL

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Have you picked your brains about how to rapidly advance your language progress to improve your TOEFL score?  Here are a few techniques to help get you achieve your objectives.

First, stay mentally motivated. You need to put in the time to study to improve. You can give yourself constant encouragement by dwelling on all of the reasons that you want to attain your target score. If you make a list of those reasons, you can post them on the wall near your study desk so you can look at them daily to keep you focused on your goal. Having your reasons posted nearby will help you not procrastinate. Whenever you feel like you want to put off studying, look up at your list with your goals, and that reminder will help you stay on task. If you are able to study consistently without being distracted, you have a higher chance of keeping your motivation level high. Only you can drive yourself to the next level of commitment. Your list serves as a daily reminder.

Second, make time to study. You need to schedule enough time to practice each section and review your errors so that you can improve from your mistakes. Though you may have a balancing act of student, work, or family life to juggle, keep concentrating on your priorities of getting to your highest score. You need to arrange time and dedicate extra energy outside of your normal life activities to study test preparation so that your English will advance step by step. It is not only important to study new materials, but also to brush up on what you learned a few days previously, so that you can easily retain the information to use later on.

Third, think about learning positively. Do you have a good spot to study? Wherever you plan on having your study sessions, make sure that area is conducive to staying focused. Eliminate distractions. If you have a positive learning environment with a clean desk area, you will feel less stressed to get down to study. Sitting yourself in a quiet, clean space will help give you a positive mindset. In your study space, plan your time to accomplish certain activities. For instance, study for 25-30 minutes and then take a break for two minutes standing up and moving around to move your energy. You must not study more than one hour sitting at one time because the brain performs better when it has a little rest. If you are planning to sit down and study for three hours, a positive approach would not be to study straight through, but to take 3-5 short breaks within the overall time. Statistically, the research has proven that the brain focuses better in this way. You will be able to retain more information, and it will bring you more success in the long run.

Next, avoid anxiety and stress. If you tend to worry about negative thought patterns such as, “It’s difficult; I can’t do it.” Eliminate those ideas from your mind. Don’t be frustrated. Try to be patient and focus on your goals. Talk to yourself with positive words like, “I am learning more every day. I retain all the information that I study. I am good at English. I can achieve my goal with my daily studies.” If you are able to avoid stressing yourself out, you will be able to block out the negativities. Positive reactions to taking a test will result in calmness on the day of the test. You will have a mental advantage on the exam. When you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to just take a break. Get enough rest, and don’t forget to have fun. Keep yourself positive and the stress will melt away.

Lastly, find a balance in your life. Work-study balance is vital to keeping your brain calm so it functions well on the test day. You will be able to achieve success if you schedule in time to do fun things with friends and family. It’s not just about studying. To get your goal, you need to have a solid balance of academics and normal life so that the brain is stronger. Take time to eat well, exercise daily, and reflect on all the positive improvements you have made and all the skills you have advanced on.

What to Do on TOEFL Test Day

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

  1. Be sure you are well-rested and have gotten at least a good night’s sleep before your test. That means that you should have slept between 6-8 hours the night before. If you have slept well, you are much more likely to recall what you have studied and highly likely to perform better and get a high score than if you don’t sleep much at all.
  2. Stay in a positive mindset to remain calm. If you feel relaxed, you will be able to focus successfully on each question and in each section. If you feel anxiety, take a slow breath and inhale deeply. Simply put any worried thoughts out of your mind to stay in a “mentally successful zone.”
  3. When it is possible, try to position your seat in the exam room at the front since you probably will be less-distracted by others around. In that spot, you will also hear the recording better for the listening parts.
  4. Before jumping in, be sure you understand the directions, and if you need to, ask the examiner whatever you are not sure about.
  5. Prior to starting, know how you will manage your time adequately and make a decision about how long to spend on every question. Time management is one of the keys to finishing well.
  6. Read every question carefully. The most common error is for students to read quickly, so read the directions and understand what you will need to do. Often because they do not read carefully enough, this hampers the process.
  7. Answer carefully, and if there is any time at the end of the exam, you can read through your responses. Statistics show that your first answer is often the correct one, so remember to only change an answer if you actually see an error.
  8. First, be sure and answer the easy questions initially since it will boost your confidence and certainly save you time later in the game.
  9. Avoid losing time on any challenging questions that you are unable to answer. Furthermore, if you are unable to respond to a question, go to the next question and come back to the one you missed later on if time is available. If you waste much time on one question, you might lose your confidence.

How to Study Effectively, Part 3

Besides evaluating your level and identifying your learning needs, reading and taking notes, there are three additional aspects to consider to study effectively.

  1. Concentrate
  • Avoid distractions that can waylay your progress to your target TOEFL goal. Avoid day dreaming by focusing in on the task at hand. Put all your brain juice into whatever skill you want to perfect in that activity. Concentrate on what you are studying.
  • Take a few minutes break after 25 minutes, or have a 10-minute break each hour to give your brain a rest from your study task. Research, such as the Pomodoro technique (http://pomodorotechnique.com/,) shows this will help you concentrate. The best way to take a break is to stand up, stretch, move around and face away from your desk, computer, books. Avoid staying at your desk looking at your book or surfing the web on your computer or phone. The physical movement of standing up and moving around will help stimulate better thinking as the blood circulates throughout your body.
  1. Understand what you are learning

 

  • Understanding the directions to activities, paying attention to stay on target with the task, asking yourself what the main purpose of your task is, taking notes of key ideas, jotting down new vocabulary, and being proactive to ask questions to your instructor for feedback when you do not comprehend something. Take an active role in learning to improve your understanding and be better at recalling information.
  • Take notes on the passage or lecture writing in short noun/verbs, abbreviations or symbols. Spelling is unimportant, but content is key.
  • Summarize a reading passage or listening/lecture in your own words. When you summarize, it should be short and to the point, addressing all the key points.
  1. Revise

 

  • It is normal to not recall everything in the English language; however, if you want to have a better grasp of English, keep reviewing constantly so that your memory retains more information over the long term and you can progress to an advanced level.
  • Revise information soon after (the next day) you learned it. Aim for reviewing once a study session or every two or three study sessions. Go over older materials that you need to recall; it will refresh your memory.
  • Reviewing and revising daily or every other day will save you having to re-study a topic all over again. Be sure your calendar schedule has “review or revision time” blocked into your study timetable. Refer to your summaries or note-taking or notebooks to help you review.

Study tips to prepare you before the TOEFL:

  1. Make sure your study time is well-organized. Use a wall calendar or your phone calendar to create a timetable that will help you make the most of your study time by dividing the hours you have available for studying into what you will learn, practice, and strengthen for separate skills. Figure out which schedule works best for you to study during the weekdays and on weekends. Some individuals need to wake up early since they are early birds and want to study early in the morning (before work), and others may be night owls and feel it’s best to study later (after work.) Once you select a study time, keep to your schedule and be rigorous about studying at those designated times so you will not procrastinate.
  2. Designate your quiet study spot: select a place to study where no one bothers you as any noisy distraction can make it challenging to focus. It will affect the amount of information you recall.
  3. Drink water or tea while you study to rehydrate you. It is known that using the brain uses energy and dehydrates the body, so not taking into enough liquids can affect your concentration. It may even make it harder to recall or retain the information you study. Shoot for having a glass of water every hour.
  4. Eat a healthy snack prior to studying. Since food–particularly fruit or vegetables which have natural sugar rather than a cup of caffeinated coffee–feeds the brain energy, you can focus better for intensive periods of time.
  5. Take breaks while you are studying. For instance, if you take a few minutes break after a 25-minute activity, the affect will be better on your brain retention. Or, resting five minutes each hour to walk around and stretch out, the movement you do will circulate the blood to the brain, making it better to recall what you studied. It will also keep your juices flowing to help you focus on more study time if you have an intensive 3-hour session, for example.
  6. Be sure to comprehend what you study. Do not memorize it, rather understand the meaning to apply it to your next practice and real exam.
  7. Ask a native coach or a peer who is fluent for help if you find something difficult.
  8. After you study, review again the next day to go over what you studied so you can recall the information within 24 hours.
  9. Take practice tests: you need to simulate exactly as the exam is on the test day, and there is no better way to get ready for a real TOEFL exam than taking practice tests on a regular basis. You will be able to learn the vocabulary language you need to be familiar with on the exam, and you will also familiarize yourself with the type of exam questions for each section and practice strategies that will help you be more comfortable and hence more confident on the actual exam day when you confront the real test.
  10. Participate in a study group or work with a native-speaker to get insight and feedback into your weaknesses to strengthen those. For example, if you have instructors, friends, peers, colleagues, or classmates who speak fluent English, join with them in a group to practice your language skills. It will help motivate you to study more often.