General TOEFL Test Strategies – Part 2

Yesterday, you read about general strategies used while taking TOEFL exam. In case you have missed it, you can find it here: General TOEFL Test Strategies .
Today, we are going to talk about Section Two and Three.

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Section Two: Structure and Written Expression

The purpose of Section Two of the TOEFL is to test your knowledge of the structure of standart written English. The language tested in this section is mostly formal, not conversational. Many of the sentence topics used in this section are of a general academic nature. The vocabulary used in Section Two questions is similar to the vocabulary used in TOEFL Section Three, Reading Comprehension.

As we mentioned it earlier in the other post, you should be familiar with Section Two, so you do not have to read the instructions but instead, you can move immediately to the questions and begin working.

Don’t forget to use your time wisely. You have only 35 seconds to complete each question in this section.

Try to identify the grammar point being tested in each question you read. You can often discover the correct answer right away if you do this.

Structure Questions Strategies 

  1. Read the whole sentence before you choose your answer.
  2. Ask yourself, “What is needed in this sentence?” Then, look for the answer choice that completes the sentence. If you cannot immediately identify what is needed read the steps in strategy 3.
  3. A. Locate the subject and the verb of the main clause. If the subject or verb is missing or incomplete, look for it in the answer choices. If the two sentences part are not missing or incomplete, proceed to Step B.
    B. Look for the object or the complement of the sentence. If the object or complement is needed but is missing or incomplete, look for it at the answer choices. If one of these parts is not needed or is not missing, proceed to Step C.
    C. Look for a subordinate clause. If the subordinate clause is needed and if it is missing a subject, a verb, or a clause marker, look for the missing part in the answer choices. If none of these sentence parts is missing, proceed to Step D.
    D. Look for a phrase. If there is a modifying phrase and if any part of the phrase is missing, look for it in the answer choices.
  4. Do not look for ungrammatical segments in the answer choices. Most of the answer choices are grammatically correct by themselves. They only become incorrect when they are put into the sentence.

Written Expression Question Strategies

  1. Ask yourself, ” What is wrong with this sentence?” In this part of the test, you are looking for the incorrect part of a sentence. This is a very different task from the task in the Structure questions. You must remember to quickly change your approach when you begin the Written Expression part of the test.
  2. Quickly scan the underlined segments to find what is wrong. One of these segments may be incorrect on its own. If none of the choices is incorrect on its own, proceed to strategy 3.
  3. Read the entire sentence. Compare the underlined segments to other parts of the sentence. Most of the incorrect segments in this section are wrong because of their relationship to other parts of the sentence, as in the second model.
  4. Do not waste time looking for errors that are not underlined. All errors occur in the underlined segments of the sentences.
  5. Do not waste time thinking about how to correct the incorrect segment of the sentence. Once you locate the incorrect segment, mark it on your answer sheet and move on.

Section Three: Reading Comprehension

The purpose of Section Three of the TOEFL is to test your knowledge of the meanings and uses of words in written English and your ability to understand a variety of reading materials. The reading topics in Section Three are taken from general and formal English. For the most part, informal and conversational language is not tested in this section. The questions based on the reading passages will not require you to have outside knowledge of the topics. Your knowledge of some of the words as they are used in the context of the passage is also tested.

Now you know that you should be familiar with this Section, too. So, you can move immediately to the first question and begin working.

Use your time wisely. You have 55 minutes to complete the Reading Comprehension section of the TOEFL. There are 5 or 6 reading passages. You should spend 7-10 minutes on each passage and the questions about it.

Remember to change your overall approach. In Section Three, Reading Comprehension you must select the correct answer. This is different from the Written Expressions questions, where you are asked to identify the mistake.

Reading Comprehension

The purpose of the Reading Comprehension Section of the TOEFL is to measure your ability to read quickly and understand a variety of short reading passages.
The topics of the reading passages in Section Three of the TOEFL are often academic in nature. Popular topics are the physical sciences, history, business, art and dance, literature, medicine, and the social sciences.

The questions about the reading passages can all be answered using information in the passages themselves. Outside knowledge of the subject matter is not necessary. Most of the questions test your understanding of the topic and main ideas of the passage, as well as supporting details. Some questions ask you to make inferences based on the information in the passage; others ask you to recognize the author’s purpose or the organization of the passage. A few questions ask you to relate the information in the passage to an outside situation. The TOEFL also asks you about specific words in the reading passages. These questions test the meaning of the word only within the context of the passage.

NOTE: The meaning of specific words within the context of the reading passage is tested in the Reading Comprehension Section of the TOEFL. Because words have multiple meanings, you must be careful to choose the correct answer based on the context of the reading passage.


  • Reading passages on the TOEFL are written in formal English and are general and academic in nature.
  • Reading quickly with comprehension is the key to being successful on the Reading Comprehension Section of the TOEFL.
  • A large vocabulary in English is very important for success on the Reading Comprehension Section of the TOEFL.

Reading Comprehension Question Strategies

  1. Read the first and last sentences of the passage to establish the topic and main idea. Skim the passage for the key concepts and vocabulary.
  2. Read the questions  following the passage to find out what information you are looking for. DO NOT read the answer choices at this time, just read the questions.
  3. Read the passage carefully, keeping in mind the questions you will have to answer.
  4. Answer the questions. Use key words and phrases in the questions to scan the passage for the correct answer. When you find the answer in the passage, match it with one of the answer choices.
  5. Answer questions on the meaning of specific words based on their meaning in the context of the reading passage. Answer choices may contain another meaning of the word which is incorrect in the context of the reading passage.
  6. Guess if you do not know the correct answer. Use any clues in the question and passage to make your best guess. If you finish the Reading Comprehension Section before the time is up, you can go back to questions that you were not sure about.


Source:The  Heinemann ELT TOEFL – Practise Test

Now that you have read all the strategies of TOEFL Test, make sure you nail it! 😉

*Marco from Tropozha mode on*   Good luck! And don’t forget to share this post with your friends 🙂

Happy weekend! 😀


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