TOEFL Reading Skills Practice
- General Reading Activities
- Increase your vocabulary by keeping a journal of new words: Group word lists by academic subject areas—such as biology, geology, psychology—and create flash cards to review the words frequently.
- Learn to recognize the meanings of prefixes, suffixes and common roots of words.
- Study the organization of academic texts: Look for the main ideas and the supporting details and pay attention to the relationship between them. Notice how the end of one sentence relates to the beginning of the next sentence.
- Make a list of the important points of the passage and then write a summary of it. If the text is a comparison, be sure your summary reflects that. If the text argues two points of view, be sure both are reflected in your summary.
- Targeted Activities
Reading to Find Information:
Try these activities to practice for “Reading to Find Information” questions:
- Scan passages to find and highlight key facts (dates, numbers, terms) and information. Look for capital letters, numbers and symbols, and special formatting (such as italics) as you scan.
- Look for words in a passage that have the same meaning. Highlight each one with the same color marker. Then look at the way the writer used these words with similar meanings.
Reading for Basic Comprehension
Try these activities to practice for “Reading for Basic Comprehension” questions:
- Practice skimming a passage quickly to get a general impression of the main idea instead of carefully reading each word and each sentence.
- Practice reading the introductory paragraph, the first sentences of paragraphs and the concluding paragraph to get the gist of a passage.
Reading to Learn
Whenever you read, identify the passage type (cause/effect, compare/contrast, classification, problem/solution, description, narration).
- Reading Strategies
Skimming is one of the tools you can use to read more in less time. Skimming refers to looking only for the general or main ideas, and works best with non-fiction (or factual) material. With skimming, your overall understanding is reduced because you don’t read everything. You read only what is important to your purpose. Skimming takes place while reading and allows you to look for details in addition to the main ideas.
When to skim.Because skimming is done at a fast speed with less-than-normal comprehension, you shouldn’t skim all the time. There are many times, however, when skimming is very useful.
Skimming will help you locate the information quickly while making sure you use your time wisely. It will also increase the amount of usable material you obtain for your research.
Scanning is another useful tool for speeding up your reading. Unlike skimming, when scanning, you look only for a specific fact or piece of information without reading everything. You scan when you look for your favorite show listed in the cable guide, for your friend’s phone number in a telephone book, and for the sports scores in the newspaper. For scanning to be successful, you need to understand how your material is structured as well as comprehend what you read so you can locate the specific information you need. Scanning also allows you to find details and other information in a hurry.
How to scan. Because you already scan many different types of material in your daily life, learning more details about scanning will be easy. Establishing your purpose, locating the appropriate material, and knowing how the information is structured before you start scanning is essential.
Learning to use your hands while scanning is very helpful in locating specific information. Do you do anything with your hands to locate a word in a dictionary? To find a meeting time on your calendar ? To read a train or bus schedule? Using your hand or finger is extremely helpful in focusing your attention and keeping your place while scanning a column of material..