Section 3 — Reading Comprehension

This section is designed to measure the ability to read and understand short passages similar in topic and style to those found in North American universities and colleges. Examinees read a variety of short passages on academic subjects. Each passage is followed by a number of questions about the material. To avoid creating an advantage to individuals in any one field of study, sufficient context is provided so that no subject-specific familiarity with the subject matter is required to answer the questions.

Directions: In this section you will read several passages. Each one is followed by a number of questions about it. You are to choose the one best answer, A, B, C or D, to each question. Then, on your answer sheet, find the number of the question and fill in the space that corresponds to the letter of the answer you have chosen.

Answer all questions about the information in a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.

Sample Passage and Questions

  The railroad was not the first institution to impose
  regularity on society, or to draw attention to the
  importance of precise timekeeping. For as long as
Line merchants have set out their wares at daybreak and
(5) communal festivities have been celebrated, people have
  been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the
  time of day. The value of this tradition is today more
  apparent than ever. Were it not for public acceptance of
  a single yardstick of time, social life would be unbearably
(10) chaotic: the massive daily transfers of goods, services,
  and information would proceed in fits and starts; the
  very fabric of modern society would begin to unravel.

Graphic of sample answerExample I

What is the main idea of the passage?

  1. In modern society we must make more time for our neighbors.
  2. The traditions of society are timeless.
  3. An accepted way of measuring time is essential for the smooth functioning of society.
  4. Society judges people by the times at which they conduct certain activities.

The main idea of the passage is that societies need to agree about how time is measured in order to function smoothly. Therefore, you should choose answer C.

Graphic of sample answerExample II

In line 7, the phrase "this tradition" refers to

  1. the practice of starting the business day at dawn
  2. friendly relations between neighbors
  3. the railroad's reliance on time schedules
  4. people's agreement on the measurement of time

The phrase "this tradition" refers to the preceding clause, "people have been in rough agreement with their neighbors as to the time of day." Therefore, you should choose answer D.

Practice Passage

  The Alaska pipeline starts at the frozen edge of the
  Arctic Ocean. It stretches southward across the largest
  and northernmost state in the United States, ending at
Line a remote ice-free seaport village nearly 800 miles from
(5) where it begins. It is massive in size and extremely
  complicated to operate.
  The steel pipe crosses windswept plains and endless
  miles of delicate tundra that tops the frozen ground. It
  weaves through crooked canyons, climbs sheer
(10) mountains, plunges over rocky crags, makes its way
  through thick forests, and passes over or under hundreds
  of rivers and streams. The pipe is 4 feet in diameter, and
  up to 2 million barrels (or 84 million gallons) of crude
  oil can be pumped through it daily.
(15) Resting on H-shaped steel racks called "bents," long
  sections of the pipeline follow a zigzag course high
  above the frozen earth. Other long sections drop out of
  sight beneath spongy or rocky ground and return to the
  surface later on. The pattern of the pipeline's up-and-
(20) down route is determined by the often harsh demands
  of the arctic and subarctic climate, the tortuous lay of
  the land, and the varied compositions of soil, rock, or
  permafrost (permanently frozen ground). A little more
  than half of the pipeline is elevated above the ground.
(25) The remainder is buried anywhere from 3 to 12 feet,
  depending largely upon the type of terrain and the
  properties of the soil.
  One of the largest in the world, the pipeline cost
  approximately $8 billion and is by far the biggest
(30) and most expensive construction project ever
  undertaken by private industry. In fact, no single
  business could raise that much money, so eight major oil
  companies formed a consortium in order to share
  the costs. Each company controlled oil rights to
(35) particular shares of land in the oil fields and paid
  into the pipeline-construction fund according to the
  size of its holdings. Today, despite enormous
  problems of climate, supply shortages, equipment
  breakdowns, labor disagreements, treacherous
(40) terrain, a certain amount of mismanagement, and
  even theft, the Alaska pipeline has been completed
  and is operating.

Practice Questions

  1. The passage primarily discusses the pipeline's
    1. operating costs
    2. employees
    3. consumers
    4. construction
  2. The word "it" in line 5 refers to
    1. pipeline
    2. ocean
    3. state
    4. village
  3. According to the passage, 84 million gallons of oil can travel through the pipeline each
    1. day
    2. week
    3. month
    4. year
  4. The phrase "Resting on" in line 15 is closest in meaning to
    1. consisting of
    2. supported by
    3. passing under
    4. protected with
  5. The author mentions all of the following as important in determining the pipeline's route EXCEPT the
    1. climate
    2. lay of the land itself
    3. local vegetation
    4. kind of soil and rock
  6. The word "undertaken" in line 31 is closest in meaning to
    1. removed
    2. selected
    3. transported
    4. attempted
  7. How many companies shared the costs of constructing the pipeline?
    1. three
    2. four
    3. eight
    4. twelve
  8. The word "particular" in line 35 is closest in meaning to
    1. peculiar
    2. specific
    3. exceptional
    4. equal
  9. Which of the following determined what percentage of the construction costs each member of the consortium would pay?
    1. How much oil field land each company owned
    2. How long each company had owned land in the oil fields
    3. How many people worked for each company
    4. How many oil wells were located on the company's land
  10. Where in the passage does the author provide a term for an earth covering that always remains frozen?
    1. Line 4
    2. Line 15
    3. Line 23
    4. Line 37

Answer Key for TOEFL ITP Reading Comprehension

  1. D
  2. A
  3. A
  4. B
  5. C
  6. D
  7. C
  8. B
  9. A
  10. C

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