How to Improve TOEFL Reading Skills & Scores?

Most people regard the reading part of the TOEFL as the easiest part of the test. However TOEFL reading test may give you a headache if you underestimate it. The candidates who take the exam for the first time generally experience such a situation because during the preparation period they spend most of their time on practicing more scary parts such as the speaking test and they don't spend enough time practicing reading. That's why you can see lots of TOEFL examinees complaining about the difficulty of the reading test and the insufficiency of the time period provided to finish the reading test. Fortunately, one can easily improve his or her reading skills and get familiar with TOEFL reading topics through some simple but time-demanding techniques. Let's take a look at some of them.

As an English teacher, I personally believe that an English learner should never ever stop reading. From the very beginning of the beginner level to advanced levels, an English learner should always have something to read. Luckily, thanks to the internet we have access to unlimited amount of extra reading materials as well as books that we can buy everywhere. But of course, the type of books that a student should read might change from case to case. In our case, there are several materials that a Toefl examinee can use. But whatever the material type is, the reading materials that a Toefl examinee should use must have academic themes. Due to the fact that an examinee is going to read passages related to academic topics such as psychology, sociology, marketing, biology, chemistry, art, art history, music, philosophy, anhropology etc. he or she should get familiar with these topics through the materials that he or she uses. So any reading material with academic themes will help you improve your scores on the Toefl reading test. But of course, some will help you more than others.

The best and most effective way to practice for Toefl reading test is to use reading books which are prepared specially for the Toefl test. Firstly, these books teach you how to handle Toefl reading passages and give you some important strategies to use while taking the test. Secondly, their reading passages are similar to Toefl readings in terms of the number of paragraphs and words and in terms of the question types that you will come up with during the test. Finally, these books use academic reading topics that are similar to the topics Toefl test-makers use. Mainly due to these three reasons, these materials are the best way to get ready for the Toefl test in a short period of time. You can easily access these materials through different publishing houses including ETS, the test-makers themselves.

However, some people find studying through such official test-preparation materials boring. Well, if you are one of them, I still advise you to use these materials at least for a certain amount. But, you can still find lost of materials to get yourself ready for the Toefl reading test.

One way is to read academic journals. These type of materials might seem a bit complex to handle. You can have problems understanding some sentences and some technical vocabulary items. Still, getting ready for the test through some tough texts will help you easily deal with Toefl reading passages as they will seem a bit easier after reading academic journals. Another advantageous point is that you can access a lot of academic journals without paying them as many of them provide free access. If you are interested in academic studies, find some academic journals from different fields and start reading them. This will also be helpful for you if you are planning to pursue an academic career.

Another way is to read newspapers. Newspapers generally have a semi-academic style. They are neither too academic nor too informal. The most important advantage of newspapers is they involve lots of different topics and themes such as politics, economy, crime, sports, culture etc. Another important point is some students really enjoy reading newspapers that they don't regard reading newspapers as a type of studying. That's why they can read newspapers for a long time. Newspapers are also provided for free and can easily be accessed on the internet. You can also buy newspapers in paper form.

Reading magazines, why not? Most magazines are like special newspapers that are sold every week or month. Some magazines include various articles with diverse topics. Especially if there are some articles with academic themes and topics, they can be really helpful in terms of improving Toefl reading test scores.

Reading novels can also be an alternative studying method for the Toefl reading test. However due to the fact that most novels aren't written with an academic style and they focus on a topic with many pages decrease their level of effectiveness. Still, reading a novel every day will be helpful in terms of improving reading competence and learning new vocabulary items.

Apart from these, any reading material with an academic theme will be quite helpful for practicing TOEFL speaking. If you have other materials that you use while practicing for the TOEFL test, please share them with us by commenting.

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