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Reading techniques

Think About What You Want to Know

Before you start reading anything, ask yourself why you’re reading it. Are you reading with a purpose, or just for pleasure? What do you want to know after you’ve read it?

Once you know your purpose, you can examine the resource to see whether it’s going to help you.

For example, with a book, an easy way of doing this is to look at the introduction and the chapter headings. The introduction should let you know who the book is intended for, and what it covers. Chapter headings will give you an overall view of the structure of the subject.

Ask yourself whether the resource meets your needs, and try to work out if it will give you the right amount of knowledge. If you think that the resource isn’t ideal, don’t waste time reading it.

Remember that this also applies to content that you subscribe to, such as journals or magazines, and web-based RSS and social media news feeds – don’t be afraid to prune these resources if you are not getting value from some publishers.

Know How Deeply to Study the Material

Where you only need the shallowest knowledge of a subject, you can skim material. Here you read only chapter headings, introductions, and summaries.

If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, then you can scan the text. This is when you read the chapter introductions and summaries in detail. You can then speed read the contents of the chapters, picking out and understanding key words and concepts. (When looking at material in this way, it’s often worth paying attention to diagrams and graphs.)

Only when you need full knowledge of a subject is it worth studying the text in detail. Here it’s best to skim the material first to get an overview of the subject. This gives you an understanding of its structure, into which you can then fit the detail gained from a full reading of the material. (SQ3R is a good technique for getting a deep understanding of a text.)

Read Actively

When you’re reading a document or book in detail, it helps if you practice “active reading” by highlighting and underlining key information, and taking notes (member-only article) as you progress. (Mind Maps are great for this). This emphasizes information in your mind, and helps you to review important points later.

Doing this also helps you keep your mind focused on the material, and stops you thinking about other things.

Tip:
If you’re worried about damaging a book by marking it up, ask yourself how much your investment of time is worth. If the book is inexpensive, or if the benefit that you get from the book substantially exceeds its value, then don’t worry too much about marking it. (Of course, only do this if it belongs to you!)

Know How to Study Different Types of Material

Different types of documents hold information in different places and in different ways, and they have different depths and breadths of coverage.

By understanding the layout of the material you’re reading, you can extract the information you want efficiently.

Magazines and Newspapers

These tend to give a fragmented coverage of an area. They will typically only concentrate on the most interesting and glamorous parts of a topic – this helps them boost circulation! As such, they will often ignore less interesting information that may be essential to a full understanding of a subject, and they may include low value content to “pad out” advertising.

The most effective way of getting information from magazines is to scan the contents tables or indexes and turn directly to interesting articles. If you find an article useful, then cut it out and file it in a folder specifically covering that sort of information. In this way you will build up sets of related articles that may begin to explain the subject.

Newspapers tend to be arranged in sections. If you read a paper often, you can quickly learn which sections are useful, and which ones you can skip altogether.

Tip:
You can apply the same strategies to reading online versions of newspapers and magazines. However, you need to make sure that you don’t get distracted by links to other, non-relevant material..

Vocabulary test (practice test)

TOEFL Vocabulary Test (40 Questions)

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1.
insatiable
adj. unable to be satisfied
v. to banish or exile; to withdraw from one’s country
v. to check or hinder
n. a. personal peculiarity
2.
anonymous
ad. indicating a happy outcome
n. one who denies that God exists
adj. of unknown authorship
v. to root out, destroy totally
3.
atheist
v. to make clear; to explain
n. a state of happiness; a high ability
v. to smile in a silly or affected way
n. one who denies that God exists
4.
cogent
v. to prevent, dispose of, or make unnecessary by appropriate actions
adj. pertaining to the common people; hence, common or vulgar
adj. having the force to compel, usually by appealing to reason
n. approval; praise
5.
apprehensive
adj. fearful
adj. unable to be satisfied
n. working together secretly for an evil purpose
adj. foul-smelling; harmful
6.
compensation
n. payment for services
v. to give a false idea of
v. to draw out
adj. sacrificing moral principles in order to attain power; politically cunning
7.
countenance
adj. excessive
n. eagerness; cheerful promptness
adj. worthy of belief
n. a face
8.
fictitious
n. amazement; lack of courage caused by fearful prospect
n. a remedy for all ills
adj. unreal; made-up
v. to paralyze with horror, fear, or surprise
9.
archetype
v. to restate in a brief, concise form; to sum up
adj. inclined to quarrel; warlike
n. an original pattern
n. one who proudly shows off his learning or who overrates his knowledge
10.
erudite
adj. acting solely from a consideration of reward or profit
adj. having or containing a lot of specialist knowledge
v. to exclaim or utter suddenly
adj. moderate in the use of food or drink
11.
plagiarism
adj. roomy
v. to yield; to admit as true
n. adopting and reproducing, without acknowledgment, the writings or ideas of another and passing them off as one’s own
v. to exercise self control; to keep from
12.
innuendo
n. an indirect reference or suggestion (frequently derogatory)
adj. festive; gay
adj. having the force to compel, usually by appealing to reason
adj. objectionable
13.
raconteur
n. a little world, or a universe in miniature
n. a skilled storyteller
adj. profuse or generous; given to extravagance
adj. excessive
14.
misanthropic
adj. deserving blame or censure
adj. excessive
adj. often of mistakes, extremely and noticeably bad
adj. hating or distrusting mankind
15.
incisive
v. to be sorry for
adj. cutting, penetrating
adj. inclined to believe anything; easily imposed upon
adv. with distrust
16.
onus
n. nearness
adj. gloomy; ill-humored
n. boredom; weariness of mind
n. burden; duty
17.
aesthetic
n. compelling a person by physical force or other means to do something against his will
n. a branching; sub-division
adj. winding; indirect
adj. pertaining to the beautiful
18.
convivial
adj. secret; stealthy
n. feeling of displeasure or indignation resulting from mistreatment or abuse
adj. swollen, inflated; using big or high-sounding words
adj. festive; gay
19.
dolorous
adj. constantly changing or varying in pattern or scenes
n. an indirect reference or suggestion (frequently derogatory)
adj. sorrowful; mournful
n. a privilege or power attaching to a position
20.
culpable
adj. deserving blame or censure
adj. inclined to believe anything; easily imposed upon
v. to quicken, speed tip
n. eagerness; cheerful promptness
21.
anthology
n. an indirect reference or suggestion (frequently derogatory)
n. payment for services
n. a collection of choice literary works
n. one who dabbles in the fine arts for amusement only and without concentrated study
22.
promulgate
adj. fearful
adj. of, or pertaining to, the world, as contrasted with the spirit
v. to publish or proclaim; to spread abroad
adj. of low morals; corrupt
23.
crass
adj. rigorously self-denying
adv. with distrust
adj. traveling about; wandering
adj. coarse and stupid
24.
proletariat
n. the wage-earning class
v. to express sympathy with another in sorrow, pain, or misfortune
adj. devoted to religious observances
adj. objectionable
25.
sleazy
n. a cliff
n. a distortion of the face to express an attitude or feeling
n. one who is at home in all countries
adj. flimsy and cheap
26.
grimace
adj. smooth-spoken, fluent
v. to twist about (usually with pain)
n. a distortion of the face to express an attitude or feeling
v. to express sympathy with another in sorrow, pain, or misfortune
27.
exultation
n. faithfulness
adj. positive in expressing an opinion
n. coward
n. great rejoicing
28.
bizarre
adj. pertaining to money
n. an extreme patriot
adj. queer; unusual in appearance
v. display or wave boastfully
29.
ubiquitous
v. to postpone or put off to another time
adj. all-powerful
v. to smile in a silly or affected way
adj. existing everywhere
30.
exotic
adj. strange and foreign
v. to walk about (or talk) aimlessly; to wind about (as a stream)
adj. pretending to be religious
adj. demonstrating originality, skill, or resourcefulness
31.
promontory
adj. trembling
adj. apparent; pretended
n. a cliff
n. to interpret, explain the sense of, or analyze
32.
hyperbole
adj. supreme power and authority; independent of the control of any other government
adj. ridiculous; producing laughter
n. extravagant exaggeration for effect
n. boredom; weariness of mind
33.
jettison
n. one who proudly shows off his learning or who overrates his knowledge
adj. lacking in self-confidence
v. to throw overboard (as cargo); to throw off (as a burden or something in the way )
adj. simple and straightforward; concealing nothing
34.
blithe
adj. gay and light-hearted in spirit or mood
adj. sorrowful; mournful
adj. of little worth or importance
adj. well-deserved (applied chiefly to punishment)
35.
benevolent
v. to encourage -or support
adj. kindly; charitable
n. boredom; weariness of mind
adj. genuine
36.
fiasco
adj. deadly
n. a ludicrous and complete failure
adj. queer; unusual in appearance
n. one who is at home in all countries
37.
flaunt
v. display or wave boastfully
adj. gripping and moving the feelings powerfully; piercing, biting, pointed
adj. despotic
n. great rejoicing
38.
writhe
adj. inclined to plunder or rob; preying on, others
v. to twist about (usually with pain)
n. a. personal peculiarity
adj. unrefined in speech or manners
39.
ire
adj. flimsy and cheap
v. to follow or result
n. an assumption made for the sake of argument
n. anger
40.
hypothesis
adj. in an early stage of development
n. an assumption made for the sake of argument
adj. given to joking or inappropriate gaiety; said in fun
adj. given to joking or inappropriate gaiety; said in fun
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Generated by Vocaboly

 

Theory : business writing

Business writing tasks on the topic of “brands”

Market Leader Intermediate New Edition Unit 1

Choose one or more of the tasks below and email it to your teacher or give the piece of writing to him or her in the next class. You could choose the topic which is most connected to your work or area of business, or you could choose a genre that you often write or most need to improve.

Write a report suggesting ways in which a real brand can stretch their brand, improve their image and/ or increase brand awareness

Write a report on brands and their market shares and/ or images in your country, using real or imaginary brands and figures.

Write a report on why an internationally successful brand is not so successful in another country (e.g. your own), using real or imaginary brands and reasons.

Write a report suggesting ways in which a domestic brand could become as successful overseas.

Write a report recommending product endorsement as the best way to improve the image of a particular (real or imaginary) brand.

Write the agenda or action minutes for a meeting about how to improve the sales of a brand, how to improve or update its image and/ or which products associated with a brand should be cut from the product range.

Write the agenda or action minutes for a meeting in which half the people think the company should stretch the brand further and half the people think they should concentrate on their key products and avoid diluting the brand.

Write a memo to the staff in your company telling them why they must order non-brand supplies from now on (e.g. avoiding IBM computers and branded stationery like Post Its, Blu Tack and Sellotape)

Write a notice or sign for immigration and customs in an airport describing the laws on bringing fake brand goods into the country

Write a letter to a newspaper complaining about recent guerrilla marketing campaigns of a particular brand (real or imaginary)

Write a magazine article explaining the successful of a particular (real or imaginary) brand.

Write an email or letter of complaint complaining that the quality of a brand good you bought was not what you expected or that a brand good you paid a lot of money for was available for much less in a street market.

Write a letter of apology to a customer who has complained about one of the things above.

Write an email to supplier explaining why you are switching from their brand to a cheaper alternative.

——————————————————————–

More about business writing

The purpose of business writing is to convey information to someone else or to request information from them. To be effective writing for business, you must be complete, concise, and accurate. Your text should be written in such a way that the reader will be able to easily understand what you are telling or asking them.A lot of writing for business is sloppy, poorly written, disorganized, littered with jargon, and incomplete. Often it is either too long or too short. All these attributes contribute to ineffective business writing.

Whether you are writing a sales proposal, an email to your department, or an instruction manual for a software package, there are certain steps you need to follow to create effective business writing. You need to:

  1. organize your material
  2. consider your audience
  3. write
  4. proofread
  5. and edit your text.

The emphasis on each step may vary, depending on what you are writing, but the steps will be the same.

Organize

First, organize your material. When writing an email announcing a staff meeting, this may be as simple as collecting your thoughts. On the other hand, you may need to write out a multi-level outline of the material when writing up the results of a pharmaceutical trial. Without an appropriate level of organization, you can’t be sure you will include everything or that you will give prominence to the most important topics. Omissions or incorrect focus can make your business writing less clear.

Audience

Before you start to write, think about your intended audience. For example, a presentation about your company’s new 401(k) program may have the same outline when given to your CFO or to all employees, but the level of detail in various areas will differ. A quick email to your team, reminding them of the company’s security procedures, won’t have the same tone as your department’s section of the company’s annual report.Also remember that you will be more effective writing to your audience if you focus on what you want them to hear rather than on what you are going to say.

Start Writing

Good writers have different styles of writing. Some prefer to write everything out and then go back and edit. Others prefer to edit as they go along. Sometimes their style varies depending on the piece they are writing.As you write, or when you edit, be aware of length. Use enough words to make your meaning clear, but don’t use unnecessary words just to make it flowery. Business writing needs to be clear and concise, not verbose and flowery. No one in business has time to read any more than necessary.

Conversely, don’t make the piece too short. Write enough that your meaning is clear and won’t be misunderstood. A part in a warehouse was labeled “used but good”. It was unclear whether the author was trying to say the part had been really heavily used, or that the part was not new, but was still functional. Another couple of words would have made his writing more effective. Don’t try to shorten a piece by using jargon or abbreviations. These often mean different things to different readers.

Regardless of the style you use when writing, you need to proofread and edit what you have written.

Edit and Proofread

After you write anything, you need to proofread it. You may then need to edit it. Proofreading is re-reading what you wrote to make sure all the words in your head made it correctly onto the paper or the screen. Since our brains work faster than our fingers, you may omit words, leave off an ending, or use the wrong homonym (there instead of their, for example). Proofreading catches these errors so you can fix them.Obviously, proofreading a one-line email is pretty easy. Just glancing over it as you type may be enough. However, if you are writing an instruction manual, your proofreading will be more complicated and take longer.

After you have proofread your material, you need to edit it. Sometimes these can be done together, but it is more effective when they are done sequentially.

You edit to fix or change what you wrote in order to make the material better. When writing for business, this means fixing the errors and making the text clear and concise.

Manage This Issue

You are writing for business, not writing the “great American novel”. Your writing should be as descriptive as necessary, but it does not need to paint vivid word pictures using lots of big words and figures of speech. If you mean “glass houses”, don’t write “vitreous domiciles”.Remember the rules for effective business writing to:

  1. organize your material
  2. consider your audience
  3. write
  4. proofread
  5. and edit your text.

Business writing

Today’s business world is almost entirely information-driven. Whether you run a small business or occupy a small corner of the org-chart at a massive multinational corporation, chances are that the bulk of your job consists of communicating with others, most often in writing. Of course there’s email and the traditional business letter, but most business people are also called on to write presentations, memos, proposals, business requirements, training materials, promotional copy, grant proposals, and a wide range of other documents.

Here’s the rub: most business people have little experience with writing. While those with business degrees probably did a bit of writing in school, it’s rarely stressed in business programs, and learning to write well is hardly the driving force behind most people’s desire to go to business school. Those without a university background might have never been pushed to write at all, at least since public school.

If you’re one of the many people in business for whom writing has never been a major concern, you should know that a lack of writing skills is a greater and greater handicap with every passing year. Spending some time to improve your writing can result in a marked improvement in your hireability and promotional prospects. There’s no substitute for practice, but here are a few pointers to put you on the right track.

1. Less is more.

In business writing as in virtually every other kind of writing, concision matters. Ironically, as written information becomes more and more important to the smooth functioning of businesses, people are less and less willing to read. Increasingly, magazines and other outlets that used to run 2,000-word features are cutting back to 500-word sketches. Use words  sparingly, cut out the florid prose, and avoid long, meandering sentences. As Zorro taught his son, “Get in, make your Z, and get out!” – get straight to the point, say what you want to say, and be done  with it.

2. Avoid jargon.

Everyone in business hates business writing, all that “blue-sky solutioneering” and those “strategical synergies” that ultimately, mean nothing; “brainstorming” and “opportunities to work together” are more meaningful without sounding ridiculous. While sometimes jargon is unavoidable – in a business requirement document or technical specification, for example – try using plainer language. Even for people in the same field as you, jargon is often inefficient – the eye slides right past it without really catching the meaning. There’s a reason that jargon is so often used when a writer wants to not say anything.

3. Write once, check twice.

Proofread immediately after you write, and then again hours or, better yet, days later. Nothing is more embarrassing than a stupid typo in an otherwise fine document. It’s hardly fair – typos happen! – but people judge you for those mistakes anyway, and harshly. Except in the direct emergency, always give yourself time to set your writing aside and come back to it later. The brain is tricky and will ignore errors that  it’s just made; some time working on something else will give you the detachment you need to catch those errors before anyone else reads them.

4. Write once, check twice.

I know, I just said this, but I mean something else here. In addition to catching typos and other errors, putting some time between writing and re-reading your work can help you catch errors of tone that might otherwise escape you and cause trouble. For instance, when we’re upset or angry, we often write things we don’t actually want anyone else to read. Make sure your work says what you want it to say, how you want it to say it, before letting it reach its audience.

5. Pay special attention to names, titles, and genders.

OK, there is one thing more embarrassing than a typo: calling Mr. Smith “Ms. Smith” consistently throughout a document. If you’re not positive about the spelling of someone’s name, their job title (and what it means), or their gender, either a) check with someone who does know (like their assistant), or b) in the case of gender, use gender-neutral language. “They” and “their” are rapidly becoming perfectly acceptable gender-neutral singular pronouns, despite what your grammar teacher and the self-righteous grammar nazi down the hall might say.

6. Save templates.

Whenever you write an especially good letter, email, memo, or other document, if there’s the slightest chance you’ll be writing a similar document in the future, save it as a template for future use. Since rushing through writing is one of the main causes of typos and other errors, saving time by using a pre-written document can save you the  embarrassment of such errors. Just make sure to remove any specific information – names, companies, etc. – before re-using it – you don’t want to send a letter to Mr. Sharif that is addressed to Mrs. O’Toole!

7. Be professional, not necessarily formal.

There’s a tendency to think of all business communication as formal, which isn’t necessary or even very productive. Formal language is fine for legal documents and job applications, but like jargon often becomes invisible, obscuring rather than revealing its meaning. At the same time, remember that informal shouldn’t mean unprofessional – keep the personal comments, off-color jokes, and snarky gossip out of your business communications. Remember that many businesses (possibly yours) are required by law to keep copies of all correspondence – don’t email, mail, or circulate anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having read into the record in a public trial.

8. Remember the 5 W’s (and the H)

Just like a journalist’s news story, your communications should answer all the questions relevant to your audience: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? For example, who is this memo relevant to, what should they know, when and where will it apply, why is it important, and how should they use this information? Use the 5W+H formula to try to anticipate any questions your readers might ask, too.

9. Call to action.

The content of documents that are simply informative are rarely retained very well. Most business communication is meant to achieve some purpose, so make sure they include a call to action – something that the reader is expected to do. Even better, something the reader should do right now. Don’t leave it to your readers to decide what to do with whatever information you’ve provided – most won’t even bother, and enough of the ones who do will get it wrong that you’ll have a mess on your hands before too long.

10. Don’t give too many choices.

Ideally, don’t give any. If you’re looking to set a time for a meeting, give a single time and ask them to confirm or present a different time. At most, give two options and ask them to pick one. Too many choices often leads to decision paralysis, which generally isn’t the desired effect.

11. What’s in it for your readers?

A cornerstone of effective writing is describing benefits, not features. Why should a reader care? For example, nobody cares that Windows 7 can run in 64-bit mode – what they care about is that it can handle more memory and thus run faster than the 32-bit operating system. 64-bits is a feature; letting me get my work done more quickly is the benefit. Benefits engage readers, since they’re naturally most concerned with finding out how they can make their lives easier or better.

12. Hire a freelancer.

Not a writing tip per se, I know, but good advice nonetheless. Writing is most likely not your strong suit – if it’s important, hire someone for whom writing is their strong suit. You may think freelancers are only for marketing material, but that’s not true – a good freelance writer can produce memos, training manuals, internal letters, corporate newsletters, blog posts, wiki entries, and just about any other kind of writing you can think of. Depending on your needs, you can farm work out as needed or move a freelancer into a cubicle on-site, or work out whatever other arrangements best fit your needs. Expect to pay at least $30 an hour, and more likely $50 – $125 an hour, for good writing – anyone who charges less is either not very good, or not very business savvy. (These rates are for writers in US metro areas – rates may differ in other parts of the world.)

Great writing may require a talent that few of us have, but effective writing is a learnable skill. If your business writing isn’t up to snuff, follow the tips above and see if you can’t improve it. If your writing does pass muster, how about leavin

Give opinions based on the text below

    It was the first photograph that I had ever seen, and it fascinated me. I can remember holding it at every angle in order to catch the flickering light from the oil lamp on the dresser. The man in the photograph was unsmiling, but his eyes were kind. I had never met him, but I felt that I knew him. One evening when I was looking at the photograph, as I always did before I went to sleep, I noticed a shadow across the man’s thin face. I moved the photograph so that the shadow lay perfectly around his follow cheeks. How different he looked!

That night I could not sleep, thinking about the letter that I would write. First, I would tell him that I was eleven years old, and that if he had a little girl my age, she could write to me instead of him. I knew that he was a very busy man. Then I would explain to him the real purpose of my letter. I would tell him how wonderful he looked with the shadow that I had seen across his photograph, and I would most carefully suggest that he grow whiskers.

Four months later when I met him at the train station near my home in Westfield, New York, he was wearing a full beard. He was so much taller than I had imagined from my tiny photograph.

‘Ladies and gentleman,” he said, “I have no speech to make and no time to make it in. I appear before you that I may see you and that you may see me.” Then he picked me right up and kissed me on both cheeks. The whiskers scratched. “Do you think I look better, my letter, my little friend?” he asked me.

Toefl -practice test — choose the best answer and provide your reasons for the answer you provide

1. What year did you _____ university?
graduate
graduate from
graduating
graduating from
2. It seems to be getting worse. You had better _____ a specialist.
consult
consult to
consult with
consult by
3. Chicago is a large city, _____?
aren’t it
doesn’t it
won’t it
isn’t it
4. Don’t leave your books near the open fire. They might easily _____.
catch to fire
catch the fire
catch on fire
catch with fire
5. Do you enjoy _____?
to swim
swimming
swim
to swimming
6. I have trouble _____.
to remember my password
to remembering my password
remember my password
remembering my password
7. Do you have _____ to do today? We could have a long lunch if not.
many work
much work
many works
much works
8. My brother will _____ for a few nights.
provide us up
provide us in
put us up
put us in
9. When will the meeting _____?
hold on
hold place
take on
take place
10. The board meeting was held _____.
at Tuesday
on Tuesday
with Tuesday
in Tuesday
11. Why don’t you _____ us?
go to the house party with
go together the house party with
go the house party with
together the house party with
12. That awful accident occurred _____.
before three weeks
three weeks before
three weeks ago
three weeks past
13. They didn’t _____ John when he explained his decision.
agree to
agree with
agree
agree about
14. The social worker _____ the two old sisters who were ill.
called to the house of
called on the house of
called to
called on
15. Tomorrow is Paul’s birthday. Let’s _____ it.
celebrate
praise
honor
congratulate
16. If you don’t understand the text, don’t hesitate _____.
ask a question
asking a question
to ask a question
to asking a question
17. It’s snowing. Would you like to _____ on Saturday or Sunday?
skiing
go to ski
go skiing
go ski
18. Our company didn’t pay _____ for that banner advertisement.
much funds
many funds
many money
much money
19. Do you feel like _____ now?
swimming
to swim
swim
to go swimming
20. Tom was thrilled to be _____ such a beautiful and interesting lady.
introduced
introduced at
introduced with
introduced to
21. “What happened to them last night? They look depressed”
“I don’t think _____ happened.”
nothing
everything
something
anything
22. “It is not very cold. I don’t think we need these big jackets.”
“I don’t think so, _____.”
anyway
neither
either
too
23. “Bill is not doing well in class.”
“You must _____ that he is just a beginner at this level.”
keep minding
keep to mind
keep in mind
keeping in mind
24. “Excuse me. Do you know where the bus terminal is?”
“It is _____ the large police station.”
opposite of
opposed to
opposite with
opposite to
25. “Those students will perform the annual school play.”
“Yes, it is _____ for next week.”
due
scheduled
time-tabled
put on

Toefl : theory (strategy)

The first component you will have to do when you sit for the TOEFL iBT exam is the Reading. The Reading Section measures your ability to read and understand academic texts (passages) in English. Reading is a critical skill in academic environment. Students have to read a lot and comprehend the information presented in their textbooks or other reading materials. As we discussed in TOEFL iBT Format Section on i-Courses.org, three are the main purposes for academic reading in TOEFL iBT:

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

The Reading Section in TOEFL iBT consists of 3-5 texts; each text is about 700 words long. Each Reading text is followed by 12 – 14 questions related to the text. The first passage stands alone for a time of 20 minutes and the 2nd and 3rd passages share a total time of 40 minutes for reading and answering the questions. The system will cut you off right after the time ends. Therefore, you must be not only good at reading but also very fast. To the end of this document we will provide some important guidelines on how to prepare for the TOEFL iBT Reading and how to behave at the reading test in order to improve your final score.

Preparation Strategies

Read, Read, Read. Read in English regularly. Focus on academic texts from university textbooks or other materials. Do not stick to one or two topics that you are interested in. Read from variety of subjects – science, social science, business, arts, geography, history, economics, and others. Academic texts, apart from textbooks, could be found in variety of articles and academic publications on the Internet or university libraries.

Find the purpose of the passage. Knowing the purpose of the reading you may easily find what the writer is trying to accomplish. The purpose of the passage in most of the readings is embedded in the introductory paragraph which is one of the most important paragraphs in the text. Most of the passages in TOEFL iBT will try to do the following:

  • To Explain – to present the information on a specific topic in explanatory manner. These texts contain mostly factual information.
  • To Resolve – it aims at finding solution for some sort of dilemmas or questions that need answers. Usually there would be a debate.
  • To convince – to persuade the reader of the validity of certain viewpoint or idea. There would be opinions and support with evidence in those type of passages.

Increase vocabulary. When reading wide variety of texts on different subjects you should make a word list. Organize your list in topics for better results. Example topics could be business, geography, science and others. Make flashcards to help you learn those word lists. Use the words learned in your writings and speaking.

Take notes. During all sections of TOEFL iBT note taking is allowed. It is a crucial component for success. It is difficult to remember all facts and details from a reading text in order to answer the questions. You also don’t have enough time to search for those again in the text. So, the solution is called note taking. When skimming and reading the texts you should write down all important facts and details in order to find them fast and easily when you need them. See also our effective note taking strategies.

Learn how to skim the text. Skimming means reading the text quickly to obtain very first general impression on what the text is about, what its main idea is. Skimming corresponds with Reading to find information objective in TOEFL iBT. You should develop your ability to skim quickly but at the same time to identify all major points in the passage. Take notes. See also our skimming strategies.

Read after skimming. Only skimming is not enough. Read the passage again. This time read it more carefully, but don’t forget that you have limited time. Take notes. Identify the passage type – classification, cause/effect, compare/contrast, problem/solution, etc.

Try to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words in the passages, the context can help to do that. After that, check those words in the dictionary. Guessing the words from the context brings great advantages – you save time and it doesn’t disturb your comprehension of the texts.

Highlight some of the pronouns (he, him, they, them, etc.) in the texts. Identify to which nouns in the particular text the highlighted pronouns refer.

Practice making general inferences and conclusions based on what is implied in the text.

Learn to organize the data presented in the passage in charts and tables. Create charts with categories and place the important data from the passage in the appropriate category. In TOEFL iBT you are not asked to create charts. Rather, charts are provided and you are asked to categorize the information in pre-defined categories.

At the exam strategies

Relax! You don’t have to be familiar with the topic of the TOEFL iBT Reading passage. All the information needed to provide correct answers is in the text. The definition of some of the subject-specific words is available during the test. Those words are colored and underlined.

Be fast but try to avoid thinking about the clock. Concentrate on what you read and what exactly the questions ask for.

Take a guess. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer in TOEFL iBT. Do not leave blank answers. In each case they don’t bring you points. If you see you are running out of time, just take a guess and mark answers for all remaining questions. There is 25 % chances to guess the right answer.

Stop thinking about Reading. When your section time is over, just stop thinking about the Reading section. Prepare for the Listening section. If you have not done well in the Reading, you may compensate it with the next components. So, stop thinking about the Reading.

Use i-Courses.org scored reading materials to practice, monitor your progress, and receive creative feedback with guidelines on how to improve your weaknesses and strengthen your strong sides.

Structure -Toefl practice test


I. Structure

 

Directions: Questions 1-15 require you to choose the answer – (A), (B), (C), or (D) – which best fills the blank space to complete the sentence.

 

  1. Mr. Johnson has lived here _____ ten years.
    1. for
    2. during
    3. since
    4. while.
  2. The fact ________ money orders can usually be easily cashed has made them a popular form of payment.
    1. of
    2. that
    3. is that
    4. which is
  3. Chicagois a large city, _____?
    1. aren’t it
    2. doesn’t it
    3. won’t it
    4. isn’t it
  4. Do you enjoy _____?
    1. to swim
    2. swimming
    3. swim
    4. to swimming
  5. When will the meeting _____?
    1. hold on
    2. hold place
    3. take on
    4. take place
  6. The board meeting was held _____.
    1. at Tuesday
    2. on Tuesday
    3. with Tuesday
    4. in Tuesday
  7. That awful accident occurred _____.
    1. before three weeks
    2. three weeks before
    3. three weeks ago
    4. three weeks past
  8. They didn’t _____ John’s plan?
    1. agree with
    2. agree to
    3. agree
    4. agree about
  9. It’s snowing. Would you like to _____ on Saturday or Sunday?
    1. skiing
    2. go to ski
    3. go skiing
    4. go ski
  10. “Bill is not doing well in class.”
    “You must _____, that he is just a beginner at this level.”
    1. keep minding
    2. keep to mind
    3. keep in mind
    4. keeping in mind

 

11. Both diamond  ……….. graphite   are made of the same element, which is     carbon

a. and

b. except

c. together

d. both

 

 

12.A bankruptcy may be  …………… voluntary or involuntary

  1. both
  2. either
  3. so
  4. neither

 

13.The US Congress consists of both the Senate ………… the House of Representative

  1. or
  2. but
  3. nor
  4. and

 

14.The growth of hair ….. cyclical process, with phases of activity and inactivity

  1. its  is
  2. is a
  3. which is
  4. a regular

 

 

15.Fire extinguishers can contain liquefied gas, dry chemicals or  ………

  1. water
  2. watery
  3. watering
  4. to water

 

 

 

Directions : Question 16 – 40 require you to choose which of four underlined words or phrases – (A), (B), (C), or (D) – is grammatically or stylistically incorrect.

 

 

16.Compact discs are affected neither by scratching and by dust

A       B                   C                     D

17.Either Mark and Sue has the book

A          B    C    D

18.Octopuses have not only large brains and also a well-developed nervous system

A                                                       B          C           D

19.The soya bean is versatile, or it is grown widely

A                    B                C           D

20She hikes, jogs, riding her bicycle whenever she can

A                        B                              C                D

 

21.Whether it is in the print of a newspaper nor the food we eat, our lives are touched

A                                             B                         C                  D

by soya.

 

22.The student reads each chapter, takes a lot of notes and memories the material.

A                                    B                   C                   D

 

23.The sick child needs some medicine, some juice , and to rest

A                       B                                           C             D

 

24.It is made of both very hot or dense material.

A           B                       C               D

 

25.According to the syllabus, you can either write a paper but take an exam.

A                                      B               C                  D

 

26. Marble, which is a hardy stone, is composed of natural calcium carbonate also us                                 A                        B                            C

in the manufacture of lime and cement.

D

 

27. The moon travels in an orbit close at earth.

A            B             C        D

28. Financial problems are faced by many artists, a situation which often causes it to

A                             B                                                      C                      D

seek other jobs.

 

29. Sodium carbonate and sodium perbolate are chemically similar, but the different

A                         B                             C

in the type of acid involved in their composition.

D

 

30. For primitive people, religion often attempts explanation of the existence of evil in

A                                                                             B                        C                   D

the world.

 

31.Dew usually disappeared by seven o’clock in the morning when the sun comes up.

A                  B        C                               D

 

32. She was among the few who want to quit smoking instead of cutting down.

A       B       C                D

 

33.If one does not have respect for himself, you cannot expect others to respect him…                                                     A          B                       C                                 D

 

 

34.Both a term paper and final exam is required for chemistry 320.

A                 B      C      D

 

35.Few airport in the United Statesis a as modern as that ofAtlanta.

A                     B   C   D

 

36.Buenos Airesis one of the world capitals that are noted for its busy harbor.

A                         B                  C                  D

 

37.To Prevent cavities, dental floss should be used daily after brushing one’s teeth.

A                        B               C         D

 

38.Air travel is fast, safe and it is convenient.

A      B   C                  D

 

39.Mr. Williams he told us that he was planning to get married next June

A        B               C                        D

 

40. After receiving a new letter, our new boss wants to send many datas to his friends.

A                                 B                                                     C                 D