TOEFL® Reading

Academic Reading Skills

The Reading section measures test takers’ ability to understand university-level academic texts and passages. In English-speaking academic environments students are expected to read and understand information from textbooks and other types of academic material. Below are three possible purposes for academic reading.

Reading Purposes Include

  1. Reading to find information
  2. Basic comprehension
  3. Reading to learn

Reading Section Format

The TOEFL iBT test includes three basic categories of academic texts.

  1. Exposition of a subject
  2. Argumentation
  3. Historical or biographical narrative

Test takers do not need any special background knowledge to correctly answer the questions in the Reading section; all the information needed to answer the questions is contained in the passages.

Test takers must read through or scroll to the end of each passage before receiving questions on that passage.


Length of each passage Number of passages and questions Timing
Approximately 700 words 3-4 passages
10 questions per passage
54-72 minutes



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