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Let’s talk about the TOEFL Reading Section. We already discussed a little bit about the timing of the section, now let’s talk about a little bit more detail. What exactly is in the TOEFL Reading Section? The Content, well, we know already that you’ll see Academic topics. That is things that you might study in school, could be history, science, humanities, or any other things that you might see in a college textbook.
Some of the TOEFL’s favorites include, extinct animals and evolution, animal behaviors, psychology. That is how animals think and act and how people think. Art history, earth science, especially geology, the study of rocks and pieces of the earth, and meteorology, the study of weather. And astronomy, the study of stars, planets, and space.
Now, maybe you don’t really know about many of these topics. Maybe they’re new for you, maybe you never studied psychology you never studied art history. That’s fine, you don’t need to know anything before you start the test. It’s all in the passages and you can understand by context. It can make it difficult and scary, but you don’t need to know these topics ahead of time.
You only need to know them when you read them. Now, what’s even more difficult than the content is the clock. This causes a problem for many students, because you have some very long passages with many questions, and you only have 20 minutes for each. Time is really important on the TOEFL reading, you can not, and I repeat, you cannot get stuck on details, unless the detail is in a question.
If you are reading the passage, and you are not looking at a question, and you can’t figure out the meaning of one word or a piece of one sentence then you need to continue you need to move on and focus on the big picture rather then the single small details. This can help save you some time. But, you’ll also wanna try some different strategies for doing this.
The most common strategy and the one I recommend for most students is reading the passage first, this is natural. You see the passage, you read it, then you answer questions. This is the safer strategy, which is why I usually recommend it. It gives you a better understanding of the big picture, the general idea, the structure of the passage, especially if you take notes, because if you take some notes on this structure.
When you answer the big picture questions later you’ll already know the answers before you look at the answer choices. This is also good for students with lower goal scores. If you’re looking to get under an 80, or maybe even under a 70, on the TOEFL reading, then you should probably read the passage first. This gives you better chance to score the easier points which might be difficult for you otherwise.
The problem is that it can take too much time. You’ll need to practice this for a long time if you’re having trouble with it now. With enough practice, you can learn to take less time reading and give yourself more time on the questions, but this strategy of reading the passage first will always be a little bit difficult for time. The other strategy is faster, that’s going to questions first.
Now, it’s faster, but it’s harder to see the big picture. It’s harder to understand the overall structure of the passage. Many students become lost in detail when they try this. They focus only on bits and pieces of the passage and they can’t see how those bits and pieces relate to each other. They look at one sentence and another sentence and they can’t connect to the two sentences, because they don’t have a total understanding of the passage.
That can be very difficult. So, if you try this strategy, you must be able to understand the meaning of a sentence quickly. This means it’s better for high level students, students who really understand reading after only a couple of moments of thinking. If you need to consider exactly what a sentence means and translate and, and look at the different structures of a sentence, then this strategy is probably not for you.
It’s often a little bit difficult. Now, I do recommend this sometimes, if you are trying to get a score over 80, or really if you already are scoring over 80 all together, then you might try this strategy. It takes some practice, try this strategy and reading first, and decide between the two over time, and eventually you’ll find what works best for you.
Now what questions are actually on these passages? We’ll talk more about these in other lessons in the future, but for now let’s go through them very quickly. You’ll get detail questions, questions about one specific sentence or one specific detail or missing detail, something that’s actually not in the passage.
Vocabulary questions. What does this word mean? Reference questions. What does he refer to? What does this refer to? What does that time refer to?
Inference questions, this is figuring out something. They give you some information and you need to figure out what it means. Purpose questions. Why the author added some detail? Why the author added some paragraph? Paraphrase questions, that is, using your words to summarize what is in the passage.
Insert text questions. You will take a sentence and you will insert, that means put into the passage. So, you might have, sentences a and b and then the question gives you sentence c and you must decide, should the sentences be a, b, c or c, a, b, or a, c, b. Where does sentence c go?
And then at the end, there are some special drag and drop questions. The first is a Summary question that asks you what is the. Structure of the overall passage, and like I said at the beginning of this, if you read the passage first then you already have an idea of that structure. The second is category questions. You will only get one of these.
You will only get summary or a category question. Category question is not exactly a summary. For example, if you have a text about cats and dogs. And you have some information about cats and some information about dogs. You will take the information and you will put sentence 1 under cats, sentence 2 under dogs, sentence 3 under cats, sentence 4 under cats, sentence 5 under dogs or something similar like that.
All right, and that concludes our lesson on the introduction to the TOEFL reading. Thank you very much.
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