Everything You Need to Know About TOEFL Reading Section

By Mrunmayai Bobade Updated On - Feb 28, 2022 10:51 AM

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. 

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. There are approximately 700 words in each of the reading passages, and 10 questions for each passage. There are 54 to 72 minutes in this section to respond to all the questions.

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.

Also Read: Here's Everything You Need to Know About PTE Listening Section

TOEFL Reading Section: What Is It About?

The TOEFL Reading section is designed to assess your level of proficiency in reading and understanding academically related materials. In each reading passage, there are 10 questions, and each passage is approximately 700 words long. The time limit for this section is 54 to 72 minutes.

Various topics are addressed in the passages. It's okay if you aren't familiar with the subject matter of the passage. Each passage will contain all the details you need to answer the required question. Even if a word definition seems unfamiliar to you, there is a glossary available.

Both academic and non-academic texts are tested in the TOEFL Essentials Reading section. It takes 22–33 minutes to complete the section, which is divided into 30 to 45 questions.

Our Study Abroad faculty members have assisted many students with the tips and tricks to crack a variety of entrance exams like the TOEFL. Our team is thrilled to know that nearly every one of our assisted students has been offered admission to their desired universities and country. Know More.

Need Help Preparing for TOEFL Reading Section? 

Types of Tasks to Be Performed in the TOEFL Reading Section

  • 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.

Also Read: Why TOEFL May Be a Better Option than IELTS 

Is TOEFL Reading Really that Difficult?

To tell the actuality of this section, the questions on 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.

Also Read: Here's How You Can Improve Your SAT Score

Most Common TOEFL Reading 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 Asked in the TOEFL Reading Section

TOEFL iBT Reading section questions come in nine different types. The three main types of tests can be grouped according to what they test, namely: 

  • Language usage understanding

  • Reading and Learning ability

  • Comprehending the basics 

Putting language to use to express meaning and determining meaning while reading is tested in language-use questions. In one form of language, for example, questions test whether a person understands the meaning of a word.

Comprehending the details presented in a passage, understanding the main idea in a passage, and being able to infer based on that information are the three main types of fundamental comprehension questions.

Questions on reading-to-learn test the ability to synthesize and analyze the information as you read; in other words, they test your ability to learn while you read. The ability to summarize important ideas from a reading passage is tested in one of these questions.

This is a list of possible TOEFL iBT Reading passages and the question types you can expect to find within them. The number of questions per passage is referred to as a range since the actual number of questions varies. It is important to remember that there can be up to four reading passages per test.

Question Category

Question Types and Number Per Passage

Language Usage Understanding: There are about half a dozen questions relating to language use in the Reading section, and these are generally the first questions that follow each passage.

1-3 passages contain vocabulary; 0 to 3 passages contain the author's meaning; 1 passage contains organization. 

Approximately one-third of the total questions in the Reading section pertain to comprehending the basics. 

Detailed: 3 to 6 facts per passage; Not/Except (negative facts): 0 to 2 facts per passage; Inference: 0 to 2 facts per passage reading.

Reading and Learning Ability: The questions in the reading to learn section usually appears at the end of the passage. 

Table completion by Drag and Drop: 0 to 1 per passage; Table completion by Drag and Drop: 0 to 1 per passage

The word or sentence referred to in a particular question is highlighted in the passage. This makes locating it much easier. The TOEFL iBT also includes detailed questions that identify the particular paragraph in which the answer is included, which means that you no longer need to scan the passage to discover the information that you need to answer the detailed question.

Except for Drag 'n Drop table completion and Drag 'n Drop summary, all questions in the Reading section are 4 multiple-choice.

Hence, as the name implies, to use, you must drag and drop answer choices into the appropriate spot in a chart using your mouse. The second and third types of questions are also different from the others because they are each worth more than one point; each might be worth two or four points. 

With each question, you will see a note letting you know how many points it is worth. There are no letters (A), (B), (C), (D) on the TOEFL multiple-choice exam like you might have seen on other exams. An empty circle sits beside each choice; you select one by clicking on the circle and darkening it with your mouse.

Also Read: Top 6 Bachelor's Degree Programs for Indian Students to Study Abroad

TOEFL Reading Section Scoring

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!

Also Read: Why TOEFL May be a Better Option Than IELTS

We are able to provide you with more such excellent information if you contact us at abroad@collegedekho.com. Faculty members and staff at Study Abroad have helped many students to crack a variety of entrance exams, including the TOEFL. It's a great relief for us to know that nearly every one of our assisted students has been offered admission to their chosen universities and countries. Know More.

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

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