A monthly peek at test content from Michael, a TOEFL® test expert.

Reading Section Tip: Scanning for Information

Jul 22, 2015

One of the skills you will be tested on in the Reading section is reading to find information. This skill is tested using questions that require you to identify factual information that is explicitly stated in the text.

Sometimes you can remember the facts from the passage well enough to answer these types of questions. But often you will need to review the passage again, and you won’t have time to read the whole thing. That’s when your ability to scan the text for key facts and other important information will be useful.

Scanning is when we read only until we find the information we are looking for. It’s a technique we use every day, such as when we look up a telephone number, or a word in the dictionary. On the TOEFL® test, you may need to scan information to check the meaning of a word, or find a particular fact in the reading passage. Scanning will help you to locate the information you need quickly, and devote more time to the question and answer choices.

Here are a few quick tips to practice scanning for information:

  • Scan passages to find and highlight key facts (such as dates or names) and information.
  • Look for capital letters, numbers and symbols, and special formatting (such as bolded words or italics) as you scan
  • To prepare for the TOEFL® Reading questions, practice scanning academic materials that cover a variety of subject areas

Remember to practice scanning regularly to increase your reading rate and fluency. I’ll be back soon with more exclusive tips from inside the TOEFL® test!

--- Michael from ETS

Check out this quick video for more tips to succeed on the Reading section