General Skill-Building Tips
The best way for English-language learners to develop the skills measured by the TOEFL iBT is to enroll in an English-language learning program that provides instruction in:
● Reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills, with an emphasis on speaking
● Integrated skills approach (e.g., instruction that builds skills in listening/reading/speaking, listening/reading/writing)
In addition to the advice for improvement, ETS has created the following tips for students, but they also contain information useful to teachers.
A. Reading Tips
English-language learners can improve their reading skills by reading regularly, especially university textbooks or other materials that cover a variety of subject areas (e.g., sciences, social sciences, arts, business, etc.) and are written in an academic style. A wide variety of academic texts are available on the Internet as well as in magazines and journals.
Reading to Find Information
● Scan passages to find and highlight key facts (dates, numbers, terms) and information.
● Practice frequently to increase reading rate and fluency.
Reading for Basic Comprehension
● Increase vocabulary. Flashcards can help.
● Practice skimming a passage quickly to get a general impression of the main idea, instead of carefully reading each word and each sentence.
● Develop the ability to skim quickly and identify major points.
● After skimming a passage, read it again more carefully and write down the main idea, major points, and important facts.
● Choose some unfamiliar words in the passage and guess the meaning from the context (surrounding sentences). Then, look them up to determine their meaning.
● Underline all pronouns (e.g., he, him, they, them, etc.) and identify the nouns to which they refer in the passage.
● Practice making inferences and drawing conclusions based on what is implied in the passage as a whole.
✓✓The Reading section does not measure summarizing skills, but practicing them builds the skills required for the integrated tasks in the Speaking and Writing sections.
Reading to Learn
● Identify the passage type (e.g., classification, cause/effect, compare/contrast, problem/solution, description, narration, etc.) and its organization.
● Organize the information in the passage:
– Create an outline of the passage to distinguish between major and minor points.
– If the passage categorizes information, create a chart and place the information in appropriate categories.
● Create an oral or written summary of the passage using the charts and outlines.
● Paraphrase individual sentences in a passage. Then, paraphrase entire paragraphs.
On the TOEFL iBT, test takers do not have to create such a chart. Instead, a chart with possible
answer choices is provided for them, and they are required to fill in the chart with the correct
choices. Practicing this skill will help test takers think about categorizing information, and be
able to do so with ease.