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Reading Comprehension T O E F L Preparation


Factual questions ask about explicit facts and details given in the passage. They often
contain one of the WH-question words: who, what, when, where, why, how much.

Factual questions often begin with the phrases "According to the passage, ... "or "According
to the author, ... " When you see these phrases, you know that the information needed to
answer the question is directly stated somewhere in the passage (unlike answers for
inference questions).

To answer factual questions, you have to locate and identify the information that the
question asks about. If you are not sure from your first reading where to look for specific
answers, use the following techniques:

 Focus on one or two key words as you read the stem of each question. Lock these
words in your mind.
 Scan the passage looking for the key words or their synonyms. Look only for these
words. Do not try to read every word of the passage.
 It may help to use the eraser end of your pencil as a pointer to focus your attention.
Don't reread the passage completely-just look for these words.
 When you find the key words in the passage, carefully read the sentence in which
they occur. You may have to read the sentence preceding or following that sentence
as well.
 Compare the information you read with the four answer choices.

Correct answers for detail questions are seldom the same, word for word, as
information in the passage; they often contain synonyms and use different grammatical
structures. There are generally more factual questions-twelve to eighteen per Reading
section-than any other type except (on some tests) vocabulary-in-context questions.


These questions ask you to determine which of the four choices is not given in the passage.
These questions contain the words NOT, EXCEPT. or LEAST (which are always capitalized).

 According to the passage, all of the following are true EXCEPT

 Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the passage?
 Which of the following is the LEAST likely ...

Scan the passage to find the answers that ARE correct or ARE mentioned in the passage.
Sometimes the three distractors are clustered in one or two sentences; sometimes they are
scattered throughout the passage.

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Reading Comprehension T O E F L Preparation

The correct answer, of course. is the one that does not appear. Negative questions often
take more time than other questions. Therefore, you may want to guess and come back to
these questions if you have time. There are generally from three to six negative questions
per Reading section.


These questions ask you to find where in the passage some particular information or
transition is located. They are easy to identify: the answers are usually line numbers. They
are usually easy to answer too. Scanning questions are often the last question in a set of
questions about a passage. To answer these questions, use the same techniques for
scanning given in Part A about factual questions.

Sample Questions
• In what line does the author shift his focus to ___ _?
• Where in the passage does the author first discuss ___ _?
• A description of can be found in ... ?
• Where in the passage does the author specifically stress ___ _?
• In what paragraph does the author first mention the concept of ___ _?

In each Reading section, there are generally from one to three scanning questions.

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