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Sep 27 2017

TOEFL Test Reading for Details

TOEFL Test Reading for Details


Hi Students!  Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL exam?  As you know, there are four sections in the exam:  Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.  In this lesson, we will study how to answer “detail” questions.  “Detail” questions ask you about specific information in the passage.

Here are important tips and strategies to answer detail questions.

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually begin with the words, “According to the passage….”

Example:  According to the passage, who often conducted education in the American South before the Civil War?

TOEFL Reading Details

  • To answer TOEFL detail questions, look for the key words used in the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Note:  scan the passage for “The Harvard School of Business”.


Strategy:  Scan the passage, meaning move your eyes quickly over the passage, until you find the key word or words you are looking for.  For example, it can be a name, date or number.

  • Remember, that it is not necessary to read the whole passage again on the TOEFL Reading passages. Just find the key words.


  • Look for similar words, but not the exact same words as the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Strategy:  Look for synonym for the words “support” and donations.  For example, Support may be assistance or help, and donations may be financial gifts.


TOEFL Reading Details

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually appear in the order of the information in the passage. Therefore,  the answer to the first detail question will be found near the beginning of the passage, and the answer to the second detail question will come after that.

  • If the question contains the words “not” or “except”, choose the answer that is not true or not mentioned in the passage.

Example:  According to the passage, all of the following were sometimes substituted for books EXCEPT

According to the passage, which of the following is NOT mentioned as something that is measured by a polygraph machine?

Strategy:  Remember that three of the answers are mentioned in the passage,  and the one that is NOT mentioned is the correct answer.  The three answers that are mentioned will be stated in different words, but will mean the same thing.

TOEFL Reading Details

Let’s look at a short passage and answer the detail question:

Cellular slime molds are extraordinary life forms that exhibit features of both fungi and protozoa, although often classed for convenience with fungi.  At one time, they were regarded as organisms of ambiguous taxonomic status, but more recent analysis of DNA sequences has shown that slime molds should be regarded as inhabiting their own separate kingdoms.


According to the passage, in the past slime molds were classified as

  1. unknown
  2. uncertain
  3. controversial
  4. unfamiliar


There is another word in the passage that means the same as “uncertain”.  That word is “ambiguous”.  If you know the meaning of the word ambiguous, you will know that the answer is B.  uncertain.   Further, the word “classified” in the question is “regarded” in the passage


That’s our lesson on TOEFL Reading for Details!

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