TOEFL iBT Reading Passages: It Is Not About Reading!


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During the TOEFL iBT Reading section, you will read a series of 800 word reading passages. And with each reading passage, you will have 20 minutes to answer approximately 12 questions. The total time you will have to complete TOEFL iBT reading will vary from 60 to 90 minutes.

Not having enough time to answer the reading questions is a common complaint that I get from my TOEFL iBT students. Their not being able to finish may be due to a slow reading speed or perhaps poor reading strategies.

Having a slow reading speed (0-180 words per minute) causes poor concentration and ultimately results in poor comprehension. Also, if you read slower, it is hard for you to skim or scan a reading passage. Moreover, it is this skimming or scanning, the process of quickly looking through a reading passage for specific details or main ideas, that will help you to employ successful reading strategies leading you toward a high TOEFL iBT score. Therefore, do whatever is necessary to increase your reading speed before you take the TOEFL iBT. Once you can comfortably read at a pace between 250-350 words per minute, you can be confident that you are ready to take the TOEFL iBT.

In addition to improving your reading speed, you will also need to implement successful TOEFL iBT reading strategies which brings me to the title of this blog post: “It is not about reading!” All too often, TOEFL iBT students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. It is better to approach TOEFL iBT readings by following a few steps:

1) Read the question before reading the passage.

2) Since most reading questions do not require you to read the entire passage before answering the question, identify what type of reading question it is (i.e., main idea, detail, vocabulary, inference, chart, graph, and so on). Do not read the answers during this step.

3) Find and read the part of the reading passage that contains key words or related words from the question.

4) Choose the best answer which is a restatement of what you read in the passage.

5) Be careful about answer choices which contain similar grammar structures or vocabulary words.

By following these simple steps, you will be able to increase your TOEFL iBT reading score.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff,

13 thoughts on “TOEFL iBT Reading Passages: It Is Not About Reading!”

  1. Hi Sir:
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    Sir I am from Afghanistan and I am bachelor in engineering now I want to take my master degree in this field in one of international universities that is why I decided to take a TOEFL exam for what I really need for your help.
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  5. adepitan david

    I so much appreciate you,with the assistance and the ideas of increasing my toefl reading sure that i will come out in flying colours by the grace of God after i take the exam.
    thank you

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