Strategies for TOEFL Reading Section

In order to successfully crack reading section of TOEFL, all you need to do is practise, practise and more practise. In order to improve your reading skills, try reading good English Newspapers or magazines or blogs. In TOEFL you would find passages classified into (a) Exposition, (b) Argumentation and (c) Historical and organised into (a) comparison, (b) classification, (c) cause/effect and (d) problem/ solution. Try to get hold of articles on similar lines to read. Before starting on the reading sessions, you must understand following types of readings. Practising each of them will definitely help you strategise.


Skimming is a process of extracting gist of the information through a passage with objective in mind. While doing so, you just roll your eyes over the article keeping in mind what are you looking for. When you find those ‘keywords’, you slow down to understand what is exactly written in the context and move on. It is very useful when you have a long passage to deal with.
Examples of Skimming:

  • The Newspaper (quickly to get the general news of the day)
  • Magazines (quickly to discover which articles you would like to read in more detail)
  • Business and Travel Brochures (quickly to get informed)

Extensive reading

In extensive reading main objective is to have general understanding of a subject. Mastering this method is really handy as you become familiar not only with overall topics but organization of overall text. During this reading you need not worry even if you don’t understand a particular word. You will still be able to manage understanding the sentence based on context, most of the times.
Examples of Extensive Reading:

  • The latest marketing strategy book
  • A novel
  • Magazine articles

Intensive reading

Main objective is of intensive reading is cover every aspect of the information right from main idea of the passage, its classification, organization, context of using particular words, interpretation and detailed points which might critical information. This is use especially when you are reading a short text.
Examples of Intensive Reading:

  • An insurance claim
  • A contract.

Form your own strategy:

Generally, our recommendation is to have two strategies in reading section. First strategy is for long passages while the second is for shorter passages.

Strategy for long passages

Use extensive reading to find out general idea of the topic. Try to categorise the topic and find organization of the passage. You may also practise noting short summary of the topic. Now you are fairly aware of the locations of key ideas that shape the whole passage. Now, turn towards questions. After reading each question you can go back to location in passage where you hope to find the answer. This strategy is useful for long passages since you won’t be able to recall all answers even if you do intensive reading.

Strategy for short passages

There are fewer number of questions based on these passages and hence it would be wise to read it carefully only once. Most of the times, you would be able to retain all your answers after intensive reading. You save some time by reading the passage only once.

I hope this helps. In case of any difficulties, please leave your question below. We will answer those in comments. You can also join our classroom teaching by clicking here.