TOEFL Reading Test: Questions, Passages, Practice Test Tips, Score Calculator


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Aug 03, 2023 01:26 PM IST

Taking the TOEFL Reading section will make it much easier to ace the section on test day. It is actually one of the more straightforward sections on the exam. Here's a guide to help you figure out exactly what types of questions you'll see and how to answer them. 

TOEFL Reading Test: Questions, Passages, Practice Test Tips, Score Calculator

TOEFL Reading Test: Reading sections of the TOEFL are designed to assess the level of comprehension of educational reading material, such as passages from college textbooks. Passages can cover any topic from chemistry and literature to psychology.

The TOEFL Reading section is designed to evaluate your ability to understand the kind of material used in an academic environment and to assess your reading abilities. The TOEFL iBT test has been condensed by ETS starting on July 26, 2023, with the intention of simplifying and optimising it to boost student productivity. The new test is the shortest of the 3 most well-liked English-language exams, taking little under two hours to complete. The exam will now have a shorter Reading section with only two reading passages and 10 questions each, taking only 35 minutes to complete.

Since not only is the grammar challenging, but the texts often address topical issues which might be new to you, the reading section of the exam is more challenging than most others you may have taken.

Overview of the TOEFL Reading Test

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Reading section is designed to assess your level of proficiency in reading and understanding academically related materials. In each reading passage, there are 20 questions. The time limit for this section is 35 minutes.

The following modifications were made to the TOEFL Reading section after the exam became the shortest English proficiency exam:

  • There will be only two reading sections instead of three. As a result, there will only be 20 reading questions as opposed to 30.
  • Less time will be given for test-takers to read each section and respond to the questions, and the reading passages will be shorter in duration.
  • The queries will all be of the same kind. The many questions kinds, such as multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answers, will still be available.
  • The reading passages will have the same level of difficulty. While still difficult, the passages will be acceptable for test takers with upper-intermediate to advanced English skills.

Need Help Preparing for TOEFL Reading Section? 

TOEFL Reading Test Structure

The TOEFL iBT Reading section consists of 3-5 sections with a time limit ranging from 60 to 100 minutes. It has 12 to 14 questions that follow each passage. Each paragraph is around 700 words long. The reading exam structure necessitates a specific set of skills. They are as follows:

  • Accuracy and Speed: The information will be provided through significant facts in the passage. The passage should be read and evaluated quickly to uncover the information concealed in the essential facts.

  • Basic Understanding: Logical reasoning is required to understand the core facts and details, references, particularly pronoun references, primary concepts, illations (inference), and the aim or substance of the piece.

  • Relating the Cause and Ideas: Following a fundamental knowledge of the passage's core, a comparison of essential facts should be made. Only when you understand the crucial facts will you be able to comprehend the passage's meaning? Only then can you build a suitable argument to help connect essential facts and concepts? As a result, it is easy to see how those thoughts contribute to the passage's aim.

  • Infer from the Author's Point of View: The concluding statements may or may not be included in the passage. They will be indicated or expressed indirectly in the sections between them. As a result, the conclusion should be deduced from the author's point of view.

Types of TOEFL Reading Test Passages

The reading section of the TOEFL iBT is designed to measure students' ability to grasp textbooks that they would most likely encounter in college courses. As a result, reading excerpts for the iBT part are culled from beginning college textbooks in a variety of areas. Though the passages may be somewhat adjusted to make sense on their own, editing is normally kept to a minimum. Each reading passage is around 700 words long, though individual portions may be somewhat longer or shorter. 

All TOEFL Reading Test passages have been categorised as expository (writing that explains a topic), argumentative (a text that advocates a certain point of view using supporting evidence), or historical (an excerpt based on past events) by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

These sections' organizational systems can include classification, compare/contrast, cause/effect, or problem/solution. Students taking the iBT can fairly believe that the reading passages will provide all of the material needed to answer the questions, and test-takers will not need to have deep knowledge of the reading passage subjects.

Types of Tasks in the TOEFL Reading Test

  • Readings pertaining to daily life

Reading a short, non-academic text (15-150 words), like a menu, social media post, poster, or news article, might give you inspiration. 

  • Lexicon (or Vocabulary)

Pick the word that is the closest match to the word you see.

  • Reading Passages: An Academic Viewpoint

You should read at least one short paragraph written at the postsecondary level or even at the secondary level. There is no limit to the subject matter; it can be from a variety of academic fields including history, art, science, and business. There are 6 questions for every 200-word passage.

  •  Tables: Academic Reading

The grid format is used to read a teeny-weeny academic text. Information will be summarized from academic sources such as news articles,  textbooks, websites, and magazines, The tables will have between 50 and 85 words each. Three options are available for each question: True, False, and Not Stated.

Is TOEFL Reading Test Really Difficult?

To tell the actuality of this section, the questions in the TOEFL reading section are as slippery or cunning as something you will ever encounter for the first time. The section is certainly not something that you will pass with an overwhelming trumpet (a magical A1 result) if you are not well-prepared for it.

There are 30 points to be awarded for the reading section, just like for the other sections. Reading is an opportunity you should not miss if you struggle with verbal and non-verbal (or listening and writing). Practising this section several times can help you score high marks and simultaneously improve your exam performance.

As the TOEFL Reading section is the first type of test, your performance will determine how you set the stage on fire for succeeding test results. If you are stressed and sweating right at the start, you will have difficulty regrouping and refocusing to better yourself on other sections.

Most Common TOEFL Reading Test Topics

Interestingly, given below are the topics on which the TOEFL reading questions have been found to be most common, but it is also important to practice other topics.




Social Science










North American Art






Political Science


Art History

Public Relations




- -



- -


World History



Note: It should be noted that ETS provides all the information for candidates to answer questions relating to the passage itself that gives a backbone to this section which makes it relatively uncomplicated.

Wishing to Achieve a Perfect Score in TOEFL Reading Section? 

Types of Questions in the TOEFL Reading Test

Here's a list of the 10 types of questions in the TOEFL Reading Section:


This is the most fundamental form of a question in the TOEFL Reading Test, and many students believe it is the easiest. The factual information question (also known as a fact question) requires you to identify true points from what you've read.

Negative Factual

This is the inverse of the factual question. Negative fact questions will ask you what is not true about the passage, so slow down and look for the terms ‘NOT’ and ‘EXCEPT’.


Inference questions are more difficult to answer than fact inquiries. Instead of merely determining what is true about the passage, you must determine what is strongly implied by the passage. Inference questions will need you to identify a strong argument stated in the passage. The correct answer is the one you can explain using only information from the text.

Rhetorical Purpose

‘Rhetoric’ is defined as ‘the art of effective speaking and writing’. Rhetorical purpose questions, on the other hand, ask you to identify what effect the passage's author is attempting to convey to the reader. Rhetorical purpose questions can confuse the distinction between words and word meanings. Practice your language skills to keep your attention on the purpose for each word choice rather than the connotations. ‘To illustrate’, ‘to explain’, and ‘to contrast’ are common terms in rhetorical purpose responses.


Vocabulary questions ask you to define a word. The fact that you're seeking a definition does not imply that vocabulary questions are easy! To grasp the appropriate meaning, you must comprehend the context of the term as it is used in the paragraph.


Reference questions, as opposed to inference questions, require you to identify the relationship between two words. In this scenario, you're looking for a relationship between two different terms rather than an inference of meaning.


In a paraphrase (or sentence simplification) question, you must select the sentence option that is most similar to the given sentence in meaning. In the passage, the sentence will be highlighted. Wrong response choices frequently omit an important point in the paragraph and may misinterpret or infer a different meaning than that which is stated in the reading passage.

Insert Text

An insert text question, also known as a sentence insertion question, asks you to choose the most logical and grammatically accurate spot in the reading passage to insert a new sentence.


Typically, the summary question is one of the last questions for each passage. The question requires you to select three significant points from the reading material from a list of six possible answers. Because this question is worth two points, you can receive half credit if you answer some of the questions correctly. Incorrect answer choices include points that are too complex to be a summary point and points that do not address the passage's specified topic.

Fill in the Table

Fill-in-the-blank questions are also provided at the end of each passage. The question will ask you to organize passage points by topic, similar to a summary question but broken into two different categories. This question will assess your ability to discriminate across subjects in a single reading passage, so make sure to categorize material appropriately.

TOEFL Reading Test Score Calculator

Scores for both sections and your overall score can be found on your TOEFL Score Report. There will be a scale of 0-30 scores for each section, and a total score that ranges from 0-120 for the entire examination.

The proficiency levels of the sections can range from four to five, and each level indicates how much English you know. 0 indicates that you are not able to adapt to English-speaking conditions well enough to earn the grade, but there is no grade equal to failing.

Level of Proficiency 

Brief Description


Advanced Level

Understanding low-frequency vocabulary, comprehending interrelated information and synthesizing information in passages is possible.


Below Low-Intermediate Level

The language proficiency of the participants is very low.


Low-Intermediate Level

Participants are able to understand basic grammar and high-frequency words; they can identify the meaning and purpose of the text, but they are unable to synthesize information.


High-Intermediate Level

Academic terms can be understood by participants; they can distinguish ideas based on importance, and they can synthesize information with difficulty.


The only tip that remains constant through all examinations is the golden rule of practice, which cannot be stressed enough. Practice by learning what the test entails, as well as how the test is formatted. Wishing you the best of luck!

TOEFL Reading Practice Tips 

Make the most of your study time by following these TOEFL Reading strategies:

Take Practice TOEFL Reading Tests

Any English reading will help you enhance your skills and do better on the TOEFL Reading portion, but taking practice TOEFL Reading tests is extremely significant. Practising for the TOEFL Reading section via the TOEFL Reading practice tests will help you improve your essential reading abilities and become more familiar with the types of questions you'll encounter.

Practice Reading Academic Texts

Putting in practice Reading questions can help you familiarize yourself with the exam, but you should also read consistently to develop your critical reading skills. Because TOEFL Reading passages are drawn from university-level academic works that explain a topic, this is the best material to read. If you do not have any of these books, ask a friend who has begun university if you can borrow some of the books they used their first year, or look for university textbooks at your local library. 

Every day, try to read a few pages from one of these books. It is more beneficial to do a little reading every day than to try to cram a lot of reading in at once because this can make it difficult to take in a lot of material and is not as similar to TOEFL reading comprehension. Reading academic materials regularly can help you enhance your English reading skills and prepare you for whatever passages the TOEFL Reading Test throws at you. 

Strengthen Your Vocabulary

A good vocabulary is necessary for all sections of the TOEFL, but it will aid you the most in the Reading section, where you will encounter the most words and occasionally be asked explicitly what a given word means. Regular English reading will help you acquire new terms and broaden your vocabulary.

Decide if Taking Notes Helps You

Taking brief notes while reading the passages can help some people remember what they read and answer questions more readily. Others do not benefit much from the notes and are just slowed down by them. You should know which strategy works best for you before the test. 

Try taking notes for some of your practice TOEFL Reading tests while not taking notes for others. Which approach did you use to improve your score? Did you discover that one made you feel more at ease or confident than the other? Did you have time to answer all of the questions? Consider the strategy you favour and stick to it on exam day.

Pace Yourself

If you spend the same amount of time on each paragraph, you will have 20 minutes to read one passage and answer the 12-14 questions that go with it. Because there isn't much time, you'll need to pace yourself during the exam. Everyone's schedule will be slightly different, but you should try to spend about five minutes reading each passage and one minute answering each question. Taking practice tests will assist you in honing your time management abilities.

Do Not Get Tripped Up on One Question

It's easy to become stuck on one question in the TOEFL Reading Test and keep scanning the text for a hint you've missed. If you're not paying attention, you might not realize that several minutes have passed while you've been stuck on the same question. This can drastically affect your score if you do not have enough time to answer other questions, so avoid it at all costs. 

Keep an eye on the clock or your watch during the exam, and if you've spent a minute on a question and still do not know the answer, make your best guess and go on to the next one. You can always come back to that question if you have time in the end.

Use Context Clues to Figure Out the Meaning of a Word

Even if you devote a significant amount of time to growing your vocabulary and memorising all of the terms on our vocabulary list above, you will almost certainly come across at least one word that you are unsure of on the TOEFL Reading. When this happens, see if you can figure out what the word means by using context clues. 

Re-read the full sentence or paragraph in which the word appears. Then, try substituting a similar word that maintains the meaning of the text. After that, go over the answer options again. Are any of these similar to the alternative term you selected? If yes, there’s a good chance that the answer is the right one.

We are able to provide you with more such excellent information if you contact us at Faculty members and staff at Study Abroad have helped many students to crack a variety of entrance exams, including the TOEFL. 

Have Trouble Deciding How to Start Preparing for TOEFL Reading Section? 


What is the TOEFL Reading Section all about?

The TOEFL iBT Reading section is intended to evaluate your ability to read and comprehend academic-level literature. It consists of three or four reading sections, each about 700 words long, with ten questions in each passage. You have 54 to 72 minutes to answer all of the section's questions.

Are TOEFL Reading Test questions in order?

The majority of TOEFL Reading Test questions cover the passage in chronological order, with questions about paragraph 1 coming first, then questions about paragraph 2, then questions about paragraph 3, and so on.

How much time should I spend reading the passage in the TOEFL Reading Test?

Ideally, you should not spend more than 70-72 minutes reading the passage in the TOEFL Reading Test. The TOEFL Reading Test includes 3 or 4 reading passages, each approximately 700 words long, with 10 questions per passage. You have around 54 to 72 minutes to answer all the questions in the section.

Is the TOEFL Reading Test hard?

According to a 2012 study, the TOEFL Reading Test is slightly more challenging than normal written English material, owing to the reading section's usage of more academic vocabulary. However, your perception of "difficulty" is influenced by your native language.

Is TOEFL Reading Test harder than the IELTS Reading Test?

Yes, the TOEFL Reading Test is indeed harder than the IELTS Reading Test. The reading component of IELTS is thought to be substantially easier than the TOEFL's. When compared to the IELTS essay, the TOEFL essay is 300 words long. In short, you'll need to work more to prepare for the TOEFL reading section.

Can you go back and forth on the TOEFL Reading Test?

The final question always inquires about the entire paragraph. The only portion where a student can revisit past questions is the reading section. Students can freely navigate back and forth between all of the questions, and they can return to prior portions.

What should you do in a TOEFL Reading Test passage if you don't know what a word means?

This is just as problematic in everyday English use outside of the test. Don't concentrate on it if you're listening to something in English and you miss a word. Instead, concentrate on what you do comprehend and keep your mind on the broader significance of what you hear.

How is the Toefl iBT Reading Test scored?

Simply give yourself one point for each multiple-choice question you answered correctly to calculate your Reading raw score (and potentially 2-3 points for every Reading to Learn question). Your raw score is the total of these points.

How do you answer reading comprehension questions in the TOEFL Reading Test?

Here is a step-by-step guide to answering reading comprehension questions in the TOEFL Reading Test:

  • Identify and restate the keywords in the question
  • Present your answer
  • Incorporate your evidence
  • Explain your example
  • Conclude your response

What is a good TOEFL Reading score overall?

A good TOEFL Reading score for you gets you into all of the colleges you want to attend. The Reading section, like the Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections, is graded on a scale of 0-30, with 0 being the lowest possible score and 30 being the highest. In general, a good score positions you in the top half of test-takers—that is, one that is higher than the median. A decent score on the TOEFL Reading Test is anything over 22.

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