TOEFL Tips From ETS: Reading Advice

Posted on August 10, 2010 | Filed in TOEFL

While advice from TOEFL instructors and tutors can certainly be highly valued, there’s no looking past suggestions from the makers of the TOEFL itself – ETS.

ETS has released several various articles with suggestions on how to prepare for the TOEFL. This article, in particular, will highlight some of ETS’ suggestions in how to prepare for the reading section of the TOEFL test.


ETS encourages a particular eye for outline reading passages, as the actual process of outlining can save you time on the TOEFL when getting through dense and complex reading articles. Keep in mind you have 20 minutes for each reading section on the TOEFL, which includes reading a one-page academic passage in addition to answering 12-14 corresponding questions.

Practice outlining, in particular, by reading academic texts or newspaper articles and writing one sentence for each paragraph, summarizing the paragraph’s main idea. Also, look for the ways in which main ideas in one paragraph might relate to the main ideas in the other paragraphs; drawing connections between paragraphs while outlining is no doubt useful. Also, you might find during your outlining process that some paragraphs actually address the same concept; take note of them while also paying close attention to the transitional words between all the sentences.

In general, writing one short summary of an entire passage, be it an academic article or an article from a well-established newspaper, can really help your outlining abilities.


While connecting words are often encouraged in your writing for the TOEFL, when you train your eye to pay attention to them in reading it can bring you one step closer to having a greater understanding of a reading passage.

Connecting words can often be placed into categories. ETS does a wonderful job of this on its website. Here are several categories and their corresponding connecting words:

  • Connecting words that show RESULTS: as a result, so, therefore
  • Connecting words that show COMPARISONS: in contrast, on the other hand
  • Connecting words that show STEPS: first, second, next finally

Want more TOEFL test tips from ETS?  Go to

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