All about the Toefl – The Reading Section III

In Exam Prep, inglés con Propósitos Específicos, Profesional, Profesores de Ingles, Toefl by viteng

The Reading Section – Part III

In the last post we focused on the multiple-choice answers from the test and simple strategies on how to solve them. If you haven’t read it I’d advise you to do so by clicking here (link to Reading II), or if you haven’t read any of our Toefl blogs, you can start through the beginning by clicking here

In this post we will continue with the final three types of questions, which many students claim are the toughest ones, and in part may be true, as these demand more time than the other ones. Lets get straight to the topic and work these questions out.


Insert a Sentence.

This will only be asked a single time at most in a passage, which can be a relief, since this type of questions involves a bit of reading, at times, you must read a whole paragraph or two. The instructions of this section are straight forward; you will be asked to select where the best place to insert a new sentence will be. You must bare in mind that this sentence is not in the original text, but it rather continues an idea in the paragraph. Once reading, you might notice one or two paragraphs that have 4 black squares (I will mark them as Letters A through D) in between some sentences, at the beginning or the end of the paragraph. Once you see this, you know it is cueing you that you will find this question here. Don’t try to solve it once you´re reading as you don’t know the sentence that you have to insert, so let it be and focus on the other questions, once you get here, you´re already familiar with the text.

Now, the best way to solve this type of question is to read the new sentence that is given to you and after, proceed to the paragraph that the test will automatically take you to. At this point you understand the idea that the sentence is transmitting and continue to read the sentence before each black box. If the sentence that precedes the black box speaks of a different topic, then we know we must discard this option, however, just because they follow the idea doesn’t mean that it’s the correct option right away. This is where a lot of my students fail, they assume that they found the right one and don’t read the other options. It is very likely that you will find two options that sound plausible, so if this is the case, we are forced to continue reading the sentence after the black box to see if it continues the idea as well. Only one will do this and that will be the right choice.

Let’s look at an example for this. The sentence in question is in bold following the instructions.

Look at the four squares that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.

This however, wasn’t the only consequence, as the whole ecosystem suffered the drastic modifications in weather patterns.

Sample paragraph:

After the initial impact, immediate consequences were seen. (A) Many of these consequences led to the degenerative downsizing of the animal and vegetable population. (B) Dinosaurs were the most affected by this as it toppled their food chain once herbivore population decreased in the first few months. (C) The climate change brought by the collision had worldwide effects devastating the plant life. It is estimated that over seventy percent of the flora and fauna was depleted in a short time making it one of the largest Mass Extinctions in the history of our planet. (D)

So, after reading the sentence, we understand that it is: firstly, making a connection as it unites the previous sentence by using the connector “however”, this is supported by the fact it follows this by saying that it wasn’t the only consequence, which leads us to a previous argument of a consequence. Secondly, stated that the ecosystem suffered from “weather patterns” – key words – which helps us connect to whatever idea follows.

Letters A, B, and D fail to connect the sentences before and after, which leads us to discard them. Aside from this, if we read the sentence before Letter C, then the sentence we must insert, and then the following sentence, we will see how they continue the idea, explaining how dinosaurs were affected, then stating more consequences combining it with the climate.

As you see, we will normally do a bit of reading here, but these ones don’t represent a tough challenge, once you have enough practice.

Complete the summary

This is the question which normally takes the longest time in the test. You will only receive one of these per passage and this one will be worth 2 points, which means that you must do your best here. Here you will be asked to complete a brief summary of the whole passage and you will get 6 options (Letters A through F) from which you will chose three. Note that you won’t actually complete a summary, but rather chose three statements that summarize the main points made in the passage. Only three of them will cover the strongest arguments without using the same vocabulary as in the text itself, and the incorrect options will focus on smaller details or incorrect references, for which you must be very careful upon selecting. The way to select the options you think are best will by clicking and holding a specific option and dragging it to a box. You can also unselect an option by clicking it will automatically send it back to the options in the bottom.

Here is an example to illustrate it better.

The sentence below is an introductory sentence for a short summary of the passage. Select THREE answer choices from the chart that represent important ideas in the passage. Some sentences are incorrect because they contain information that was not in the passage or contain information that us a minor detail.

This question is worth 2 points.

Drag your answer choices to the spaces where they belong. To remove an answer choice, click on it.

Since its discovery in the Yucatan Peninsula, the site of the meteor impact has been the focus of many researchers which have led to great discoveries as the consequences of its destructive collision arose.

Complete Passage

A)      Option A
B)      Option B
C)      Option C
D)      Option D
E)      Option E
F)       Option F


This visual aid helps us see how its all organized. On the right-hand box, I will be able to see the whole text for reference, which really helps. On the top left is the area where I will place my selected options and bellow that are the 6 options from where to choose rom.

A helpful tip on how to solve this question, is to determine which the most important information is, and sometimes the passages will be organized in sectors, that separate specific topics. If we see an option that focuses on the title of on sector, then it will probably be a good choice. We can easily discard options that focus on topics that were mentioned only in a specific sentence, as we know that it is too specific. We will also discard the options that speak of a topic that wasn’t mentioned in the text, but we must be careful with these as they usually give some information that is within the text, but then mention something off-topic.

This one will consume more of your time, as you may have to read the main sentence of each paragraph to confirm information. But those points aren’t easy to get. If all three options are correct, you will receive the full 2 points. However, if only 2 are correct, then you will receive 1 point. Logically if only one or none is correct, you receive.

Complete the Table

This is not a common type of question in the test, and this one can be worth from 2 to 3 points. Yes, it will vary. As the last question, we will be asked to click and drag some sentences. The difference will be that we must put this information into specific categories. This will be relatively easy to do if the passage is divided into sections, or if it is contrasting two or three systems or characteristics.

Let’s see a visual to help.

Category 1

Complete Passage

Category 2

A)      Option A
B)      Option B
C)      Option C
D)      Option D
E)      Option E
F)       Option F
G)     Option G

As the other questions, you will have the passage on one side, so you can refer to it at any moment. Each correct option is used only once. This means that there will also be 2 options that won’t be used and are intended to confuse you. Depending on the question you might get 5 or 7 correct options. The scoring system is simple enough but varies depending on the amount of options.

Type of question

Corrects needed for 1 point Corrects needed for 2 points Corrects needed for 3 points

5 Correct options




7 Correct options 4 5


It is important to verify the information of each option we select, for us to get closer to that dream score. Keep in mind that this is not a common question, but you will get it at least once in the whole Reading section, so it is important to get enough practice to be able to solve this one quickly.

And with this one we have now completed the whole Reading section! We have now reviewed the passages and the type of questions and have a deeper understanding of what to expect and how to react. The most important thing is to be calm during the test and to practice plenty beforehand.

In the following post, we will continue with the next section of the Test… The Listening Section, here we will find plenty of challenges but simple solutions to help us solve them as well. I hope you follow us, so we may help you get you dream score.