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The TOEFL iBT® Test: Improving Your Reading Skills

Advice for Reading
Performance Level: High
Score Range: 22–30

Congratulations! You read very well in English. To maintain and enhance your solid skills, here are some points to keep in mind for the future.

  1. Read as much and as often as possible. Make sure to include academic texts on a variety of topics written in different genres as part of your reading.
    • Read major newspapers, such as The New York Times or Science Times.
    • Use the websites of National Public Radio (NPR) or the BBC to get transcripts of shows and study the content and new vocabulary you encounter.
  2. Continually expand your vocabulary knowledge.
    • Develop a system for recording unfamiliar words.
      • Write each word on a card and mix up the cards each time you study them. Write the context (the sentence the word was used in) to help you learn correct word usage.
      • Group the words according to topic or meaning and study the words as a list of related words.
      • Review the new words on a regular basis so that you remember them.
    • Increase your vocabulary by analyzing word parts. Study roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
      • Study word families (e.g., enjoyment, enjoy; enjoyable, enjoyably)
    • Use available vocabulary resources.
      • Use a good thesaurus to study various shades of meanings of words.
      • The Longman Language Activator provides "collocations" (words used together).
      • There are online concordancers that search corpora and provide examples of words in context, such as the British national corpus.
    • Practice using context to guess the meaning of unknown words.
    • Continually practice using new words you encounter in your speech and writing. This will help you remember both the meaning and the correct usage of the words.
  3. Think carefully about how ideas are connected within a text. The connections between sentences and the links between paragraphs are critical to complete comprehension.
    • To understand the structure of a reading passage, outline the text.
      • Begin by determining the main idea or concept presented in each paragraph. Remember to distinguish between the main points and the details that exemplify them.
      • Group paragraphs that address the same concept. Think about how the key idea in one paragraph relates to the main point of the next paragraph. If there are several paragraphs that focus on the same idea or concept, synthesize the key points into one main idea.
      • Write one sentence or phrase summarizing the paragraphs that discuss the same idea.
      • Add important details that support each major idea or concept.
    • Learn to recognize different organizational styles in order to understand the way an article is structured.
      • Look for the common patterns of organization that you find in articles.
      • Pay attention to connecting words in order to understand the pattern of organization.
    • Write a summary of a text, making sure that it incorporates the organizational pattern of the original.
      • If the text is a comparison, be sure that your summary reflects that and uses appropriate transition words and phrases for comparison.
      • If the text argues two points of view, be sure both points of view are reflected in your summary and that appropriate transitional words are used.

Note: References to other sources and internet sites are provided as a service and should not be understood as endorsements of their content.

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