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THE PRINCETON REVIEW GETS RESULTS. Get all the prep you need to ace the Test of English as a Foreign Language with a full-length simulated TOEFL iBT test, an MP3 CD with accompanying audio sections, thorough reviews of core topics, and proven strategies for tackling tough questions.

Techniques That Actually Work.
- Step-by-step strategies for every section of the exam
- Lessons on how to identify the main ideas of a passage or lecture
- Tips on how to effectively organize your ideas

Everything You Need to Know for a High Score.
- Grammar review to brush up on the basics
- Expert subject reviews for the core concepts of the TOEFL
- Comprehensive guidance on how to write a high-scoring essay

Practice Your Way to Perfection.
-1 full-length simulated TOEFL iBTwith accompanying audio sections on CD (also available as streaming files online)
- Practice drills for the Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing sections
- Detailed answer explanations for the practice test and drills
Year:
2019
Edition:
Paperback
Publisher:
Princeton Review
Language:
english
Pages:
608
ISBN 10:
0525567887
ISBN 13:
9780525567882
Series:
2019
File:
ZIP, 118.91 MB
Download (zip, 118.91 MB)

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Cracking the TOEFL 2019 Edition/Cracking the TOEFL 2019 Edition.pdf


The
Princeton
Review®


Cracking the 


TOEFL 
2019 Edition


1 full-length simulated TOEFL iBT test
(with accompanying audio sections on MP3 CD) 
Answer explanations for each practice question 
Comprehensive reviews of core TOEFL concepts


The strategies, practice, and review 
you need to score higher.


Audio files on CD and online
By the Staff of The Princeton Review


TOEFL and TOEFL iBT are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service  (ETS)
This product is not endorsed or approved by ETS. '


BETTER STRATEGIES. HIGHER SCORES.


Audio files on 
CD and online







The
Princeton
Review


Cracking the


TOEFL iBT
2019 Edition


The Staff of The Princeton Review


PrincetonReview.com


Penguin
Random
House



PrincetonReview.com





The
Princeton
Review


The Princeton Review, Inc.
110 East 42nd Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
E-mail: editorialsupport@review.com


Copyright © 2019 by TPR Education IP Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.


All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Penguin Random 
House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada, a 
division of Penguin Random House Ltd., Toronto.


The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.


Terms of Service: The Princeton Review Online Companion Tools ("Student 
Tools") for retail books are available for only the two most recent editions 
of that book. Student Tools may be activated only twice per eligible book 
purchased for two consecutive 12-month periods, for a total of 24 months 
of access. Activation of Student Tools more than twice per book is in 
direct violation of these Terms of Service and may result in discontinua­
tion of access to Student Tools Services.


TOEFL and TOEFL iBT are registered trademarks of the Educational Testing 
Service (ETS). This product is not endorsed or approved by ETS.


ISBN: 978-0-525-56788-2
ISSN: 1941-2029


Editorial
Rob Franek, Editor-in-Chief


Mary Beth Garrick, Executiv; e Director of Production 
Craig Patches, Production Design Manager 


Selena Coppock, Managing Editor 
Meave Shelton, Senior Editor 


Sarah Litt, Editor 
Aaron Riccio, Editor 


Orion McBean, Associate Editor


Penguin Random House Publishing Team 
Tom Russell, VP, Publisher


Alison Stoltzfus, Publishing Director 
Amanda Yee, Associate Managing Editor 


Ellen Reed, Production Manager 
Suzanne Lee, Designer


Editor: Selena Coppock
Production Editors: Liz Dacy and Kathy Carter
Production Artist: Deborah A. Weber


Printed in the United States of America.


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


2019 Edition



mailto:editorialsupport@review.com





Я купил и отсканировал этот новейший учебник 2019 года для 
того, чтобы все желающие могли подготовиться к экзамену 
TOEFL самостоятельно с использованием самых современных 
учебных и тестовых материалов. Однако подготовка к  TOEFL 
намного эффективнее с репетитором английского языка, хорошо 
знающим требования этого теста и имеющим большой 
практический опыт "натаскивания" именно на этот экзамен.


Я - Хохлов Игорь Игоревич - преподаю английский язык с 
1993 года, а с 1995 года готовлю учащихся к сдаче экзаменов 
TOEFL и IELTS. На сегодняшний день 72 моих студента успешно 
сдали TOEFL и 104 - IELTS.


В отличие от других преподавателей английского языка я 
специализируюсь ИСКЛЮЧИТЕЛЬНО на подготовке к  двум 
международным экзаменами - TOEFL и IELTS, я сам многократно 
сдавал эти экзамены на высшие баллы и прекрасно знаю 
наиболее эффективную систему подготовки.


Вы можете найти в интернет сотни отзывов моих учеников, 
которые они оставили за последние два с лишним десятка лет.


Если Вам нужна быстрая подготовка к TOEFL с гарантией успеха, 
то приходите на мои индивидуальные занятия английским 
языком по Skype и WhatsApp.


Мой логин в Skype www.e-english.ru
Мой WhatsApp +79157058638
Мой Facebook igor.khokhlov.english.teacher







Contents
Get More (Free) Content................................................................ x


Part I: Orientation.......................................................................... 1


1 Introduction............................................................................. 3


Welcome!.................................................................................... 4


What Is the TOEFL?....................................................................... 4


What Is The Princeton Review?..................................................... 11


What's in This Book..................................................................... 12


What's Not in This Book................................................................ 12


How to Use This Book................................................................... 13


Can I Really Improve My Score?..................................................... 13


POOD—Personal Order of Difficulty.............................................. 15


General Strategies to Improve Your English and Prepare
for the TOEFL........................................................................ 16


Study Plans.................................................................................. 21


Part II: Core Concepts.................................................................... 25


2 Core Concept: Reading........................................................... 27


Reading on the TOEFL................................................................... 28


Steps to Mastering Active Reading............................................... 30


Dealing with Difficult Passages..................................................... 85


3 Core Concept: Listening......................................................... 103


Listening on the TOEFL................................................................. 104


Challenges in the Listening Section............................................... 105


Taking Notes................................................................................ 105


Active Listening............................................................................ 106


Transcripts.................................................................................... 112


4 Core Concept: Speaking......................................................... 115


Scoring for the Speaking Section.................................................. 116


Parti: Stating Your Purpose.......................................................... 116


Part 2: Organizing Your Ideas......................................................... 121


Putting It All Together................................................................... 127


Wrapping Things Up: The Conclusion............................................. 130


Contents | v







5 Core Concept: Writing............................................................ 133


Scoring for the Writing Section..................................................... 134


Part 1: Expressing Your Purpose.................................................... 136


Part 2: Organizing Your Ideas......................................................... 140


Part 3: Writing the Perfect Body Paragraph.................................... 153


Part 4: Concluding Your Response................................................. 158


Grammar Review.......................................................................... 161


6 Vocabulary............................................................................. 165


Vocab, Vocab, Vocab.................................................................... 166


Root Words.................................................................................. 184


Part III: Cracking Each Section of the TOEFL.................................. 193


7 Cracking the Reading Section................................................. 195


Cracking the Reading Section: Basic Principles.............................. 198


Cracking the Reading Section: Basic Approach.............................. 201


Putting It All Together................................................................... 208


8 Reading Practice Drills........................................................... 243


Reading Practice Drill #1............................................................... 244


Reading Practice Drill #2............................................................... 249


Reading Practice Drill #3............................................................... 253


Reading Practice Drill #4............................................................... 258


Reading Practice Drill #5............................................................... 262


Reading Practice Drill #6............................................................... 266


Reading Practice Drill #7.............................................................. 270


Reading Practice Drill #8............................................................... 274


9 Reading Practice Answers and Explanations.......................... 277


Reading Practice Drill #1............................................................... 278


Reading Practice Drill #2............................................................... 281


Reading Practice Drill #3............................................................... 285


Reading Practice Drill #4.............................................................. 289


Reading Practice Drill #5............................................................... 292


Reading Practice Drill #6.............................................................. 296


Reading Practice Drill #7.............................................................. 296


Reading Practice Drill #8............................................................... 297


vi | Contents







10 Cracking the Listening Section.............................................. 299


Listening Section Directions.......................................................... 301


Cracking the Listening Section: Basic Principles............................. 302


Cracking the Listening Section: Basic Approach............................. 308


Final Tips for the Listening Section................................................ 324


Note Taking.................................................................................. 325


The Five R's of Note Taking........................................................... 326


6 Habits of Bad Listeners.............................................................. 327


11 Listening Practice Drills.......................................................... 331


Listening Practice Drill #1: A Conversation..................................... 332


Listening Practice Drill #2: A Conversation..................................... 335


Listening Practice Drill #3: A Lecture............................................. 336


Listening Practice Drill #4: A Lecture.............................................. 339


Listening Practice Drill #5: A Lecture............................................. 342


12 Listening Practice Answers and Explanations....................... 345


Listening Practice Drill #1: A Conversation..................................... 346


Listening Practice Drill #2: A Conversation..................................... 348


Listening Practice Drill #3: A Lecture............................................. 351


Listening Practice Drill #4: A Lecture.............................................. 353


Listening Practice Drill #5: A Lecture............................................. 356


13 Cracking the Speaking Section............................................... 361


Speaking Section Directions......................................................... 363


How the Speaking Section Is Scored............................................. 364


Cracking the Speaking Section: Basic Principles............................. 364


Practice: Using Transitions...................................  374
i


Answers and Explanations for Practice: Using Transitions............... 375


Cracking the Speaking Section: Basic Approach............................. 376


Independent Tasks........................................................................ 377


Integrated Tasks—Reading, Listening, Speaking............................ 381


Integrated Tasks—Listening and Speaking.................................... 387


Appendix: Transcripts to Audio Tracks............................................ 393


Contents vii







14 Speaking Practice Drills......................................................... 401


Personal Preference Question (Template #1)................................... 403


Choose an Option Question (Template #2)...................................... 403


Summarize an Opinion Question (Template #3)............................... 404


Summarize/Contrast Question (Template #4).................   406


Summarize/Preference Question (Template #5).............................. 409


Summarize Question (Template #6)................................................ 411


15 Speaking Practice Answers and Explanations....................... 415


Personal Preference Question (Template #1)................................... 416


Choose an Option Question (Template #2)...................................... 417


Summarize an Opinion Question (Template #3)............................... 417


Summarize/Contrast Question (Template #4).................................. 419


Summarize/Preference Question (Template #5).............................. 420


Summarize Question (Template #6)................................................ 421


16 Cracking the Writing Section.................................................. 423


Writing Section Directions............................................................ 424


How the Writing Section Is Scored................................................ 425


Cracking the Writing Section: Basic Principles............................... 425


Cracking the Writing Section: Basic Approach............................... 428


17 Writing Practice Drills............................................................ 439


Writing Practice Drill #1................................................................ 440


Writing Practice Drill #2................................................................ 444


Writing Practice Drill #3................................................................ 445


Writing Practice Drill #4................................................................ 446


Writing Practice Drill #5................................................................ 447


18 Writing Practice Answers and Explanations.......................... 449


Writing Practice Drill #1................................................................ 450


Writing Practice Drill #2................................................................ 453


Writing Practice Drill #3................................................................ 455


Writing Practice Drill #4................................................................ 457


Writing Practice Drill #5................................................................ 459


viii | Contents







Part IV: Taking a Practice Test....................................................... 463


Evaluating Your Performance......................................................... 464


What Now?.................................................................................. 465


19 TOEFL iBT Practice Test......................................................... 467


The Reading Section.................................................................... 468


The Listening Section................................................................... 515


The Speaking Section................................................................... 545


The Writing Section..................................................................... 554


20 Practice Test Answer Key...................................................... 561


21 Practice Test Answers and Explanations.............................. 563


The Reading Section.................................................................... 564


The Listening Section................................................................... 573


The Speaking Section: Sample Responses..................................... 587


The Writing Section: Sample Responses....................................... 593


Contents ix







Part I
Orientation
1 Introduction







Chapter 1
Introduction







WELCOME!
Welcome to The Princeton Review’s thorough test preparation guide for the Test of English as a 
Foreign Language (TOEFL). In this book, you will find everything you need to prepare for the 
TOEFL—information on the test format, test-taking strategies, practice drills, and, of course, a full- 
length practice exam.


Part I of this book gives a brief outline of how the test is organized. Part II helps you familiar­
ize yourself with the basic concepts tested on the TOEFL. Part III presents you with strategies 
and tips for the questions and tasks on the test. Part IV provides you with a full-length practice 
exam with corresponding answers and explanations.


WHAT IS THE TOEFL?
The TOEFL is a test that assesses your proficiency in the type of English used in an academic 
environment. The test is administered on the Internet, which we’ll explain in more detail on 
page 5.


The exam takes about four hours to complete and integrates four essential skills: reading, listen­
ing, speaking, and writing. This means that any given question or task may require you to use 
one or more of these skills. For example, before attempting a writing task on the TOEFL, you 
may have to first read a passage and listen to a lecture on the topic.


Fortunately, the TOEFL is not as daunting as it may seem because it tests each of the four skills 
in a fairly specific way. By working through this book in its entirety, you’ll become comfortable 
with the type of reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills that are required to achieve a 
good score on the exam.


Stop!
If it is difficult for you to understand the material on this page, it’s best that you continue your 
study of basic English before taking the TOEFL. This book is intended to prepare students 
who already have knowledge of basic English, and our recommendation is that you should feel 
very comfortable with the language before you attempt to take the TOEFL.


The Structure of the Test
The TOEFL is broken down into four distinct sections, one for each of the skills listed. How­
ever, each section may require you to use more than one of the above four skills. The structure 
of the test is as follows:


4 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







• One Reading section, consisting of three to four passages that are roughly 
700 words each. Each passage will be followed by 12 to 14 multiple-choice 
questions about the content of the passage. Most of these questions will be 
worth one point each, though a few toward the end of the section may be 
worth more. You will have either 60 or 80 minutes to complete the entire 
section.


• One Listening section, consisting of six to nine audio selections, each of 
which is three to five minutes long. Each selection will be either an academic 
lecture or a casual conversation. After each selection, there will be five or six 
multiple-choice questions about the content of the lecture or conversation. 
You will have 60 to 90 minutes to complete the entire section.


• One Speaking section, consisting of six speaking tasks. Most speaking tasks 
will also require some listening and some reading. Each task will ask you
to speak for 45 or 60 seconds, depending on the task, and you will have 20 
minutes to complete the entire section.


• One Writing section, consisting of two writing assignments. The Writing sec­
tion, like the Speaking section, also requires listening and reading. You will 
have 50 minutes to complete the entire section.


Which Test Should You Take?
As you may know, there are two versions of the TOEFL: the paper-delivered test 
(PDT) and the Internet-based test (iBT). Most students will take the Internet-based 
test, which is offered more than 50 times a year at centers that have Internet access. 
However, some centers do not have Internet access; therefore, a paper version is 
offered 4 times a year. Because they are administered less frequently, paper-based 
tests tend to fill up very quickly. Also, the paper-based test is not available at all 
centers. Internet-based tests have many more spots available and are a more com­
plete assessment of your level of English. Because the Internet-based test assesses 
all four areas of communication, it is the preferred test at most universities. There­
fore, we strongly recommend that you take the Internet-based test. If you are inter­
ested in finding out more about the paper-delivered test, visit the ETS website at 
www.ets.org/toefl and click on the TOEFL PDT test link. If you do not have Internet 
access, you can call ETS at 1-877-863-3546 or 1-609-771-7100. The paper- 
delivered (or paper-based) test is different from the Internet-based test in both 
structure and scoring. It is important to remember that this book is designed help 
you study for the Internet-based TOEFL test. All information on format and scor­
ing applies to the iBT.


As of October 2017, ETS 
is administering a new 
paper-format test that 
is more in line with the 
TOEFL® iBTtest. The 
revised TOEFP Paper- 
delivered Test measures 
3 skills using the same 
types of questions as 
on the TOEFL iBT test: 
Reading, Listening, and 
Writing. More informa­
tion for students about 
the test can be found at 
https://www.ets.org/ 
toefl/rpdt/about/.


How Is the Test Scored?
After finishing the TOEFL iBT, you will receive a score from 0 to 30 for each of the four sec­
tions and a total score on a 0 to 120 scale calculated by adding the four section scores. Each 
score corresponds to a percentile ranking. This number shows how your score compares with 


1. Introduction | 5



http://www.ets.org/toefl

https://www.ets.org/





For help finding the 
right college for you, go 
online to Princeton 
Review.com!


the scores of other test takers. For example, a total score of 100 would put you in the 89th 
percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 89 out of 100 test takers, whereas a score of 50 
would put you in the 26th percentile. The average TOEFL score is around 81.


Notice that the 0 to 30 scores are scaled scores, meaning that the 0 to 30 number doesn’t repre­
sent the number of questions you answered correctly or the number of points your essay was 


awarded. For example, the Reading and Listening sections contain roughly 35-55 
questions each. You will get one point for each correct answer (some Reading section 
questions will be worth two points), but there is no penalty for incorrect answers. At 
the end of the section, your raw score, which represents the number of points you’ve 
earned, is tallied and converted to a number on the 0 to 30 scale.


The Writing and Speaking sections are scored somewhat differently. Each Writing 
sample receives a score between 0 and 5. These raw scores are then converted to the 


0 to 30 scale. Similarly, each Speaking task receives a score from 0 to 4. The scores from all six 
Speaking tasks are averaged and converted to the 0 to 30 scale.


Understanding Your Scores
In order to maximize your performance, it’s important to understand what your scores mean 
to schools. ETS breaks down your scores so that schools can, at least theoretically, get a better 
grasp of how well you really know English.


In Reading and Listening, the 0-30 scale is subdivided into three sections:


• High (22-30)
• Intermediate (15-21)
• Low (0—14)


The Speaking 0-30 scale is subdivided into four sections:


• Good (26-30)
• Fair (18-25)
• Limited (10-17)
• Weak (0-9)


In Writing, the 0-30 scale is broken down into three sections:


• Good (24-30)
• Fair (17-23)
• Limited (1-16)


Why is it important to understand these breakdowns? Well, if you’re right on the border of 
“Fair” and “Good,” for example, you’re going to really want to make sure that you focus on 
developing skills that will push your score above the dividing line.


For more information on these subdivisions, please refer to the appropriate Cracking chapter in 
Part III: Cracking Each Section of the TOEFL.


6 I Cracking the TOEFL iBT



Review.com





Do You Need Rock Star Status?
Well, it would be awesome if you could be a rock star in every section of the test. Most students, 
though, find that one section is significantly easier than the others or that one is noticeably 
harder. The good news is that since most schools want a COMBINED score, you just need to 
get to that total any way you can. So, let’s say that you’re starting out with scores in this range:


• Reading: 23 • Speaking: 18
• Listening: 24 • Writing: 17


And let’s say the school you’re applying to wants to see a combined score of 90 points. Well, you 
have 82 right now. You could absolutely spend time and energy working to bring up the Speak­
ing and Writing, since those are your lowest scores. But, since you likely feel that the Reading 
and Listening are easier, you might find that it’s easier to earn another 6 points between those 
two sections (maybe 3 in each), and then bring the Speaking and Writing up by one point 
each—that would give you 90 points.


Now, we’re certainly NOT saying to just brush off the areas that you find challenging! But, we 
ARE saying that you shouldn’t ignore the areas that you’re already doing well in. A point is a 
point, no matter its source, so make sure to focus just as much on the areas you’re doing well on 
as you do on the areas you find difficult.


How Are the Scores Used?
Colleges and universities will look at your TOEFL score when considering your application. Of 
course, your TOEFL score is not the only factor that affects your chance of admission. Col­
leges and universities also look at your academic performance, letters of recommendation, ap­
plication essays, and scores on other standardized tests. Although a high TOEFL score will not 
guarantee admission to a particular program, a low test score could jeopardize your chances.


Some schools and programs may require students with TOEFL scores below a certain cutoff 
score to take supplemental English classes. Others may accept only applicants who score better 
than a particular cutoff score. Make sure you check with the programs to which you are apply­
ing for specific information.


The Computer-Based Format Used for
Internet-Based Testing (iBT)
The TOEFL iBT is a computer-based test that is delivered to testing centers via the Internet. There­
fore, the TOEFL can be offered at locations throughout the world. The test is administered by Edu­
cational Testing Service (ETS), the same testing organization that administers the GRE, SAT, and 
other standardized tests. According to ETS, Internet-based testing (iBT) is an easier and fairer way 
to capture speech and score responses. It also makes it possible for them to greatly expand access to 
test centers.


The iBT format will be new to the untrained eye and may seem intimidating, especially if you 
have never taken a test on a computer. A brief tutorial is offered at the beginning of the TOEFL 
to allow you time to familiarize yourself with the format. Still, the iBT presents some challenges. 
For example, when working on a reading passage, you will see something like the following:


1. Introduction 7







More Available


The Exoskeleton of the Arthropod
There are more arthropods alive on Earth 
than there are members of any other 
phylum of animals. Given that not only 
insects and spiders but also shrimp, 


5 crabs, centipedes, and their numerous 
relatives are arthropods, this fact should 
not occasion surprise. For all their diversity, 
arthropods of any type share two defining 
characteristics: jointed legs (from which the 


10 phylum takes its name) and an exoskeleton 
(the recognizable hard outer shell).


Though the shell itself is made of dead 
tissue like that of human hair and


15 fingernails, it is dotted with sensory cells. 
These give the arthropod information 
about its surroundings, much as the nerve 
endings in human skin do. Also like human 
skin, the shell protects fragile internal 


20 organs from potentially hazardous contact 
with the environment. It seals in precious 
moisture that would otherwise evaporate 
but permits the exchange of gases.


25 Its primary component is chitin, a natural 
polymer that contains calcium and is 
very similar in structure to the cellulose in 
wood. Chitin and proteins are secreted in 
the epidermis, the living tissue just below 


30 the shell, after which they bond to form a 
thin sheet. Each new sheet is produced 
so that its chitin fibers are not parallel with 
those directly above, which increases their 
combined strength.


35
The result is the endocuticle, a mesh of 
molecules that forms the lowest layer of 
the shell. The endocuticle is not quite 
tough enough for daily wear and tear. Over 


40 time, however, its molecules continue 
to lock together. As the endocuticle is 
pushed upward by the formation of new


I


8 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







 
sheets by the epidermis, it becomes the 
middle shell layer called the exocuticle.


45 With its molecules bonded so tightly, the 
exocuticle is very durable. There are points 
on the body where it does not form, since 
flexibility is needed around joints. This 
arrangement allows supple movement but


50 provides armor-like protection.


Though strong, the chitin and protein 
exocuticle itself would provide a poor 
barrier against moisture loss. Therefore, 


55 it must be coated with lipids, which are 
also secreted by the epidermis. These 
lipids, mostly fatty acids and waxes, form 
the third, outermost layer of the shell. 
They spread over the cuticles to form a 


60 waterproof seal even in dry weather. This 
lipid layer gives many arthropods their 
distinctive luster.


Combined, the endocuticle, exocuticle, 
65 and lipid coating form a shell that provides 


formidable protection. The external 
shell has other advantages. One is that, 
because it has far more surface area than 
the internal skeleton found in vertebrates, 


70 it provides more points at which muscles 
can be attached. This increased number 
of muscles permits many arthropods to be 
stronger and more agile for their body size 
than birds or mammals. The coloration 


75 and markings of the exoskeleton can 
be beneficial as well. Many species of 
scorpion, for instance, have cuticles that 
contain hyaline. The hyaline is excited by 
ultraviolet radiation, so these scorpions 


80 glow blue-green when a black light is
flashed on them. Scientists are not sure 
why scorpions have evolved to fluoresce 
this way, but the reason may be that their 
glow attracts insects that they can capture 


85 and eat.
?


1. Introduction | 9







Adaptive as their shell is, it leaves 
arthropods with at least one distinct 
disadvantage: the cuticle cannot expand 


90 to accommodate growth. As the animal 
increases in size, therefore, it must 
occasionally molt. The existing cuticle 
separates from newer, more flexible layers 
being secreted beneath it, gradually splits 


95 open, and can be shaken or slipped off.
The new chitin and protein will harden and 
be provided with a fresh lipid coating, but 
this process can take hours or days after 
molting occurs. The arthropod must first 


100 take in extra air or water to swell its body 
to greater than its normal size. After the 
shell has hardened in its expanded form, 
the arthropod expels the air or water. It 
then has room for growth. But until it


105 hardens, the new coat is tender and easily 
penetrated. Accordingly, the arthropod 
must remain in hiding. Otherwise, it risks 
being snapped up by a predator clever 
enough to take advantage of its lowered 


110 defenses.


10 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Clearly, you cannot approach an Internet-based TOEFL reading passage the same way you 
would approach a paper-based test. For one thing, you won’t be able to underline, circle, or 
otherwise make marks on the text (well, you could, but the testing center probably wouldn’t be 
happy if you ruined its computer screens!).


Also, on the Internet-based TOEFL, you’ll have to take each section of the test in its entirety. 
Therefore, you cannot skip part of the Reading section, go to the Listening section, and return 
to the Reading section. However, you can skip questions within some parts of the Reading sec­
tion. You may want to skip questions that you do not understand in order spend more time on 
other questions.


The audio portions of the test are also Internet-based, and the speaking portion will ask you to 
speak into a recording device.


Even though this book contains paper-based drills and questions, all of the strategies in this book 
are geared toward preparing you for an Internet-based test. To get a feel for taking the test on a 
computer, you should practice at the TOEFL website: http://toeflpractice.ets.org. Even if you live 
in an area where accessing the Internet is difficult, you should try to practice at least once online 
before your testing day.


Registering for the TOEFL
The easiest way to register for the TOEFL is online at www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/register. Because 
the test is Internet-based, many testing times are available, although this isn’t necessarily true 
everywhere. Make sure you register early so that you receive a testing time and location with 
which you are comfortable.


You may take the TOEFL as many times as you like. Many programs will simply take 
your best score, but don’t forget to check for specific information with admissions 
counselors from the schools to which you are applying.


Make sure to 
register early!


WHAT IS THE PRINCETON REVIEW?
The Princeton Review is the premier test-preparation company that prepares tens of thousands 
of students each year for tests such as the TOEFL, SAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT. At 
The Princeton Review, we spend countless hours researching tests and figuring out exactly how 
to crack standardized tests. We offer students proven, high-powered strategies and techniques 
to help them beat the tests and achieve their best scores.


In addition to our books, we offer both live classroom instruction and online courses. If you 
would like more information about our programs, visit us at PrincetonReview.com.


If you are looking for information on Princeton Review courses offered outside the United 
States, go to http://www.princetonreview.com/international/locations.


1. Introduction I 11



http://toeflpractice.ets.org

http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/register

PrincetonReview.com

http://www.princetonreview.com/international/locations





For even more vocabu­
lary practice, check out 


our Essential TOEFL 
Vocabulary flash cards!


WHAT'S IN THIS BOOK
Cracking the TOEFL iBT contains four parts.


_


• Orientation: What you’re reading now.
• Core Concepts: The basic skills necessary to successfully com­


plete the exam. By working through the exercises in this section, 
you will have a greater understanding of how the integrated tasks 
on the TOEFL fit together.


• Cracking: The appropriate strategies to crack each question type 
on the TOEFL. Questions in the Listening, Speaking, and Writ­
ing sections are accompanied by audio tracks that you can listen 
to on a CD or online (in your Student Tools).


• Full-Length Practice Test: After you’ve worked through all the 
exercises and drills in the previous two sections, you’ll have a 
chance to practice under real testing conditions. After the prac­
tice exam, we provide detailed explanations for every question, as 
well as sample speaking and writing responses. In addition, the CD 
includes samples of the types of conversations and lectures that you 
will hear on the test to give you a good idea of what to expect and 
help you develop your listening skills.


Note: The CD that accompanies this book contains audio tracks 
in MP3 format. This CD will play in a computer that uses a 
Windows-based or Mac® operating system, or any device that will 
play MP3 files (some CD players and DVD players will also play 
MP3 files). If you are having trouble running your CD, you can 
also register your book online and access the audio files from our 
website. Please refer to the two-page spread before this chapter for 
instructions on how to access the online content.


WHAT'S NOT IN THIS BOOK
This book is primarily designed to aid you in preparing to take the TOEFL. By working 
through the book, you’ll be able to pick up new vocabulary and some grammar rules, but if 
you need more help with the basics, there are a number of other resources available.


The Princeton Review’s Grammar Smart, More Word Smart, and TOEFL Power 
Vocab books provide extensive help with grammar and vocabulary. These books 
are available wherever you purchased this book, including at online retailers. 
Television, radio, film, and podcasts are enjoyable ways to learn the language. 
Almost any show or program will be helpful. Remember, the TOEFL asks you to 
listen to casual conversations, so be sure to look up words and phrases you don’t 
understand.
Even if you live in a non-English-speaking country, your city may have an English- 
language newspaper. Try reading that instead of your native-language paper.


12 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







• Reading magazines such as Time, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, and Sports Illustrated, 
and newspapers such as USA Today, The New York Times, and The Wall Street 


Journal will help your comprehension and vocabulary.
• A quick search on the Internet will turn up a number of helpful websites devoted 


to helping people learn English.


This book is more useful if you are comfortable with the English language. If you are still 
having trouble with English, build up your confidence with the language first, and then work 
through this book.


HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
The material in Cracking the TOEFL iBT is provided to help students of all levels achieve higher 
scores on the test. Ideally, all students should work through the sections of the book in the 
order in which they are presented. Even students who are fairly comfortable speaking, reading, 
and writing in English will benefit from the information in the Core Concepts section (Part II).


Of course, if you feel that you have a strong grasp of the material, you are free to skip ahead to 
the Cracking section (Part III) to start working on TOEFL questions. If you find you are not 
progressing as you’d hoped, return to Part II and work through it first.


The best way to prepare for the TOEFL is to practice as much as possible, and this book gives 
you the chance to work through more than 200 sample questions. However, to get maximum 
value from this book, you must use the strategies and techniques we present. Many of these 
strategies will feel awkward or inefficient at first, but trust us: they do work.


CAN I REALLY IMPROVE MY SCORE?
Yes! Doing well on the TOEFL is a skill, and as with any skill, it can be learned. This book pro­
vides the tools necessary to do better on the TOEFL, but it is up to you to apply them. Work 
through the book at a comfortable pace. Take time to understand the strategies and techniques 
and use them. Look back at the questions you’ve answered: both the ones you answered cor­
rectly and the ones you answered incorrectly. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses 
are on the test. Many test takers find that if they fail to use the strategies we offer, their scores 
don’t change. However, test takers who do master our techniques and strategies will improve 
their scores.


Stages of Learning a New Language
While you have progressed through at least some of these stages already, it’s important to recog­
nize where you are in the process of learning a new language in order to maximize your prepa­
ration for the TOEFL. We map out these stages (named Stages 1 through 5) on the next page. 
If at all possible, you should not attempt to take the TOEFL until you are at least comfortably 
into Stage 3, and preferably into Stage 4. Certainly, the more comfortable you are speaking, 
writing, and thinking in English, the more you can expect to gain from the time you spend 
preparing for the TOEFL, and therefore the higher score you can expect to earn.


1. Introduction 13







1. Silent/Receptive/Pre-Production
• Not necessarily silent, but definitely more about listening and absorbing.
• You have a minimal comprehension in second language.


2. Early Production
• You begin to develop a vocabulary of about 1,000 words.
• You start speaking in short phrases of one or two words, although not 


necessarily grammatically accurate.
• You develop a limited comprehension but may use familiar phrases 


comfortably.
3. Speech Emergence


• Your vocabulary grows to about 3,000 words (or more!).
• Your comprehension improves significantly.
• You being to develop phrases, sentences, and questions, although they still 


may not necessarily be grammatically correct.
• You might continue to make grammar and pronunciation errors (and that’s 


okay!).
• You should begin reading and writing in your second language.


4. Intermediate Fluency
• Your vocabulary is as large as 6,000 words.
• You have developed excellent comprehension and make few grammatical 


errors.
• You begin writing in more complex sentences.
• You begin thinking in the second language, which impacts proficiency 


significantly.
5. Continued Language Development/Advanced Fluency


• Comprehension and communication are nearly the same as those of a native 
speaker of the language.


• It may take some time when learning a new language to get to this stage, 
depending on how intensively you have been studying and how frequently you 
have been communicating and reading in your second language.


Before We Begin
Before we discuss the TOEFL, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind for any stan­
dardized, multiple-choice test.


Wrong Answers
One of the advantages of a multiple-choice test is that the answer to every question is right 
there on the screen! To minimize this advantage, test writers have to make the wrong answers 
seem correct; often, the wrong answers are particularly appealing, and test takers fall into the 
trap of picking answers that seem too good to be true.


Learning to recognize and avoid these trap answers is one of the keys to your success on the 
TOEFL. For each question in this book, be sure to review both the right and wrong answers so 
you have an idea of what both good and bad answers look like. Also, pay close attention to our 
discussion of common trap answers in the Reading and Listening sections.


14 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Increase Your Odds
Identifying wrong answers greatly improves your chances of getting a question correct. On the 
TOEFL, each multiple-choice question has four answer choices, which means you have a 25 
percent (1 in 4) chance of guessing correctly. However, by using Process of Elimination (POE) 
to cross off wrong answers, you greatly increase your odds. (We discuss POE thoroughly in the 


“Cracking the Reading Section” chapter later in this book.) Finding and eliminating just one 
wrong answer means you have a 33 percent (1 in 3) chance of guessing correctly, and eliminat­
ing two answers raises your odds of guessing correctly to 50 percent (1 in 2)! This is an impor­
tant fact to remember. Although you may not be able to answer every question on the TOEFL 
correctly, you can increase your score simply by increasing your odds when guessing.


Letter Of The Day (LOTD)
Speaking of guessing, let me introduce another Princeton Review strategy, Letter Of The Day 
(or LOTD, as we call it in “the biz.”) When you encounter a multiple-choice question and you 
have NO idea what the right answer might be and the test is almost done so you are scrambling 
to fill in answers, choose any letter (A, B, C, or D) and fill it in because there is no penalty for 
incorrect answers—so answer every question, no matter what! Use that LOTD when you’re 
scrambling and wrapping up!


POOD—PERSONAL ORDER OF DIFFICULTY


POOD Across the Test
We’ve already talked about not needing Rock Star Status on every section, and 
now that we’re discussing Personal Order of Difficulty, it’s worth mentioning again. 
Remember that many schools indicate a combined score they’d like to see, and 
typically don’t break that total down among the four sections. So, that means that 
you do NOT have to get the highest score possible on EVERY section in order get 
the score you need.


Proven Techniques
Check out these signa­
ture Princeton Review 
techniques to help you 
maximize points on the 
TOEFL.


Personal Order of Difficulty Within Each Section
In Reading and Listening, the passages and lectures/conversations are not presented in any 
particular order of difficulty. What that means is that YOU have to decide—BEFORE TEST 
DAY!—which types of questions are easiest for YOU, and which ones are tougher. So it’s 
important to remember that you need to walk in with a plan, knowing what types of Reading 
questions, for example, are easier for YOU, and which ones aren’t worth your time.


Check out Part III: Cracking Each Section of the TOEFL to map out your test day strategy.


1. Introduction | 15







GENERAL STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH
AND PREPARE FOR THE TOEFL
There are many strategies that you can employ that will not only help you prepare for the 
TOEFL, but also help you improve your fundamental English skills. Many of these approaches 
can also impact several sections of the TOEFL, all at once. Here are a few suggestions. Read 
on for advice on how to space these out, depending upon how much time you have until your 
test date.


Read Articles Online or in Magazines
Go online and read—read anything! But don’t just READ. As you read, ask yourself the fol­
lowing questions:


• When you see a pronoun, ask yourself: to whom or what is the pronoun referring? 
What noun is it replacing?
o This is an important skill to develop for everyday conversation, but questions 


that ask what noun a pronoun replaces are very common on the TOEFL!
• Summarize every paragraph—put it into your own words, and then WRITE it 


down! This will give you practice putting ideas into your own words, and it will 
also give you practice writing in English too.


• Summarize the entire article—what’s the main point? Why do you think the 
author wrote the article? What is the author’s opinion?


• Ask a friend who speaks English to read the same articles and then have a conver­
sation about them—in English, of course! Summarize the articles, ask each other’s 
opinion, think about what the people involved in the situation might think.


Watch TV or Listen to the Radio (or a Podcast!)
Watch one episode of a TV show or listen to a radio show or podcast in English. During and 
after the show, complete the following activities:


• Every time there is a scene change, pause the show and summarize what just 
happened.
o What did the characters talk about?
o Is one of them having a problem? If so, what is it?
o Did one of them offer a solution? If so, what was the solution?
o Are the characters happy? Sad? Angry? Why?


• Discuss the TV/radio show/podcast with a friend, just like you did with the 
articles mentioned above.


• As you watch/listen, make notes of what the characters are saying, just like you’ll 
have to do on the TOEFL. Then write a 3-4 paragraph summary of the show to 
practice your writing skills.


16 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Build Your Vocabulary
• Look up words you don’t know when you come across them in your reading.
• Study Greek and Latin root words—they form the basis for a large number of 


words in the English language! If you’re not familiar with them, get your hands on 
a copy of TOEFL Power Vocab, published by The Princeton Review.


Practice Brainstorming for the Speaking Section
Using the following prompts, brainstorm your responses for the independent speaking tasks:


Personal Preference
1. What is your favorite book/movie? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
2. Who is your least favorite actor/musician? Describe this person and explain why 


she/he is your least favorite.
3. What do you like to do in your free time? Describe this activity and explain why 


you like to do it.
4. Where do you like to go on vacation? Describe this place and explain why you like 


to go there.
5. What is your favorite academic subject? Describe the subject and explain why you 


like to study it.
6. Who is an influential person from your country? Describe this person and explain 


why she/he is influential.
7. Talk about a person in your life who has been inspirational to you. Describe this 


person and explain how she/he has inspired you.
8. What is your favorite memory from your youth? Describe the memory and explain 


why it stands out to you.
9. What is the most important holiday in your country? Describe the holiday and 


explain why it is important.
10. Talk about a situation in which you felt uncomfortable. Describe the situation and 


explain why you were uncomfortable.
11. What do you like to do to relax? Describe this activity and explain how it helps 


you relax.
12. What do you find difficult to study? Describe this subject and explain why you 


struggle with it.
13. Talk about your favorite type of food. Describe this food and explain why it is 


your favorite.
14. What is the best advice you have ever received? Describe the advice and explain 


why it meant so much to you.
15. What is the most popular tourist attraction in your country? Describe this attrac­


tion and explain why it is popular.
16. What do you enjoy doing with your family? Describe this activity and explain why 


your family enjoys doing it.
17. Where would you like to travel in the future? Describe this place and explain why 


you would like to go there.
18. What is your favorite athletic activity? Describe this activity and explain why it’s 


your favorite.


1. Introduction j 17







19. What is your favorite mode of transportation around your hometown? Describe 
this mode and explain why it’s your favorite.


20. What is your favorite type of animal? Describe this animal and explain why you 
like it.


Choose an Option
1. Some people prefer to attend a university that has fairly small class sizes, while 


others prefer to attend large institutions that have more lecture-style classes with 
hundreds of students. Which do you prefer, and why? Support your answer with 
specific reasons or examples.


2. Some high schools require students to wear uniforms, while others allow students 
to choose their own attire. Which do you prefer, and why? Use specific examples 
to support your opinion.


3. In some cities, public transportation is a reliable way to get around. Do you prefer 
to use public transit or your own vehicle? Use specific reasons and examples to 
support your opinion.


4. Some educators believe that students should participate in physical exercise every 
single day, while others feel that students should focus all of their attention on 
academics. Which do you feel is more helpful for students? Use specific examples 
to support your opinion.


5. Some people like to go out with large groups of friends to have fun. Others prefer 
to spend time with just a few friends and have a quiet dinner. Which do you pre­
fer, and why? Use specific reasons to explain your preference.


6. People work in different ways: some prefer to go to a job where they sit at a desk 
for most of the work day, while others prefer to spend time traveling from job site 
to job site. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to explain 
your answer.


7. Some people believe that a student must go to college in order to be successful in 
life. Others feel that going to a vocational school to learn a trade is a better option. 
Which do you feel is the better option? Use specific reasons to explain your 
opinion.


8. Some people prefer to listen to music while exercising, while others prefer to listen 
to the sounds around them. Which do you prefer to do? Use specific examples and 
reasons to explain your preference.


9. Some people like to stay up late at night and then sleep late in the mornings. 
Others prefer to go to bed earlier and get up earlier the next day. Which do you 
prefer? Use specific examples and reasons to explain your preference.


10. Some parents are very involved in their students’ academic lives, helping with 
homework, talking with teachers, and volunteering at school. Other parents 
choose to take a lesser role in their students’ academic programs. Do you prefer 
for your parents to be more involved in your schooling or less? Use specific reasons 
and examples to support your opinion.


11. Some people prefer to talk on the phone, but others prefer to text. Which manner 
of communication do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to explain 
your opinion.


18 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







12. Some people prefer to be surrounded by large groups of friends and family for spe­
cial events, like weddings or graduations. Others prefer to have smaller gatherings, 
perhaps without any friends or family at all. Which do you prefer? Use specific 
examples and reasons to explain your opinion.


13. Some people really like living in a big city. Others prefer living in a small town. 
Which do you like better? Use specific reasons to support your opinion.


14. Is it more valuable to be able to work with others or to be able to set your own 
goals and deadlines as you work independently? Why? Use specific reasons and 
examples to support your opinion.


15. Do you prefer to spend money as soon as you earn it, or would you rather save it 
to buy something at a later time? Why? Use specific reasons and examples to sup­
port your opinion.


16. Traveling the world can be very insightful and educational. Do you prefer to travel 
by yourself or with other companions? Why? Use specific examples to support 
your opinion.


17. Moving from place to place can be stressful, but can also bring new opportunities. 
Do you prefer to live in one place for a long time or to move someplace new every 
few years? Use specific examples and reasons to explain your opinion.


18. Which would you prefer: a job that pays a lot of money but that you don’t really 
enjoy, or a job that you really love that doesn’t pay as well? Use specific examples 
and reasons to explain your opinion.


19. Many colleges give students the flexibility to choose to live in dorms on campus or 
in apartments in nearby communities. Would you prefer to live on campus or off 
campus, and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.


20. As we progress into the 21st century, educational opportunities are expanding. 
Some students have found great success in studying online at their own pace. 
Other students prefer a more traditional education in a typical school building. 
Which manner of studying do you think is better? Use specific examples and rea­
sons to support your opinion.


Practice Brainstorming for the Writing
Use any of the “choice” prompts, reprinted below: write a brief outline of your 
response and then, if you are feeling ambitious and have the time, write a full essay. 
You can do it!


Choose an Option
1. Some people prefer to attend a university that has fairly small class sizes, 


while others prefer to attend large institutions that have more lecture-style 
classes with hundreds of students. Which do you prefer, and why? Support 
your answer with specific reasons or examples.


2. Some high schools require students to wear uniforms, while others allow 
students to choose their own attire. Which do you prefer, and why? Use 
specific examples to support your opinion.


3. In some cities, public transportation is a reliable way to get around. Do 
you prefer to travel by public transit or by using your own vehicle? Use 
specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.


Applied Strategies
What is the best way to 
prepare for the Writing 
Section of the TOEFL?
Practice, practice, 
practice and by that 
we mean write, write, 
write!


1. Introduction 19







4. Some educators believe that students should participate in physical exercise every 
single day, while others feel that students should focus all of their attention on 
academics. Which do you feel is more helpful for students? Use specific examples 
to support your opinion.


5. Some people like to go out with large groups of friends to have fun. Others prefer 
to spend time with just a few friends and have a quiet dinner. Which do you pre­
fer, and why? Use specific reasons to explain your preference.


6. People work in different ways: some prefer to go to a job where they sit at a desk 
for most of the work day, while others prefer to spend time traveling from job site 
to job site. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to explain 
your answer.


7. Some people believe that a student must go to college in order to be successful in 
life. Others feel that going to a vocational school to learn a trade is a better option. 
Which do you feel is the better option? Use specific reasons to explain your opinion.


8. Some people prefer to listen to music while exercising, while others prefer to listen 
to the sounds around them. Which do you prefer to do? Use specific examples and 
reasons to explain your preference.


9. Some people like to stay up late at night and then sleep late in the mornings. 
Others prefer to go to bed earlier and get up earlier the next day. Which do you 
prefer? Use specific examples and reasons to explain your preference.


10. Some parents are very involved in their students’ academic lives, helping with 
homework, talking with teachers, and volunteering at school. Other parents 
choose to take a lesser role in their students’ academic programs. Do you prefer 
for your parents to be more involved in your schooling or less? Use specific reasons 
and examples to support your opinion.


11. Some people prefer to talk on the phone, but others prefer to text. Which manner 
of communication do you prefer? Use specific reasons and examples to explain 
your opinion.


12. Some people prefer to be surrounded by large groups of friends and family for spe­
cial events, like weddings or graduations. Others prefer to have smaller gatherings, 
perhaps without any friends or family at all. Which do you prefer? Use specific 
examples and reasons to explain your opinion.


13. Some people really like living in a big city. Some others prefer living in a small 
town. Which do you like better? Use specific reasons to support your opinion.


14. Is it more valuable to be able to work with others or to be able to set your own 
goals and deadlines as you work independently? Why? Use specific reasons and 
examples to support your opinion.


15. Do you prefer to spend money as soon as you earn it, or would you rather save it 
to buy something at a later time? Why? Use specific reasons and examples to sup­
port your opinion.


16. Traveling the world can be very insightful and educational. Do you prefer to travel 
by yourself or with other companions? Why? Use specific examples to support 
your opinion.


17. Moving from place to place can be stressful, but can also bring new opportunities. 
Do you prefer to live in one place for a long time or to move someplace new every 
few years? Use specific examples and reasons to explain your opinion.


18. Which would you prefer: a job that pays a lot of money but that you don’t really 
enjoy, or a job that you really love that doesn’t pay as well? Use specific examples 
and reasons to explain your opinion.


20 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







19. Many colleges give students the flexibility to choose to live in dorms on campus or 
in apartments in nearby communities. Would you prefer to live on campus or off 
campus, and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.


20. As we progress into the 21st century, educational opportunities are expanding. 
Some students have found great success in studying online at their own pace. 
Other students prefer a more traditional education in a typical school building. 
Which manner of studying do you think is better? Use specific examples and rea­
sons to support your opinion.


Computer Practice
The TOEFL iBT is offered only online, so make sure you’re comfortable with basic computer 
functions. No specialized knowledge is required, but you should know how to use a keyboard 
and mouse. Some basic typing skills will also be helpful on the Writing section.


STUDY PLANS
Regardless of how much time you have until you take the TOEFL, you should start by taking 
a practice test to identify where you’re already scoring.


Then, you need to find out what scores are required at the schools where you plan to apply. Be 
sure to identify whether there is a minimum score requirement, or whether they are looking for 
an average score. This is important to determine which areas you should focus on between now 
and the test. Also find out whether the school pays more attention to one sub-score over the 
others. Most schools simply want to see a combined score (all 4 sections added together).


8 Weeks Out
With a solid 8 weeks to get ready, you can likely see improvement in all four areas 
of the test. You should dedicate one hour a day and choose one day of the week on 
which to invest two hours. This will allow you to invest 2 hours per subject, per 
week.


During the first week, start with a practice test to identify your stronger and weaker 
subject areas. Then, invest equal amounts of time in each section so you’re working 
to improve all of them. Feel free to start with the section that you feel least comfort­
able with, but don’t abandon your areas of strength—they all count toward your 
total score!


Proven Techniques
Plan your studying—it's 
the best way to stay 
organized and meet 
your goals.


During the second and third weeks, continue to practice all four subject areas.


In the fourth week, take your second practice test. Continue to study all four areas, but feel 
free to start spending more time on the areas you feel less comfortable with and lessen the 
amount of time you spend on your stronger areas.


1. Introduction j 21







During the fifth and sixth weeks, continue studying all four areas, with more time dedicated to 
the areas that you find more difficult.


At the beginning of the seventh week, take your third practice test. At this point, focus mostly 
on any area you still find challenging, as this will be the last week you can spend a lot of time 
on it.


At the beginning of the eighth week, take your final practice test. At this point, go back to 
focusing on all four content areas, with a primary focus on the areas you feel strongest in. 
Going into the official exam, you want to ensure that you have your stronger areas as sharp as 
can be so you can get the most points possible out of them!


4 Weeks out
With four weeks to prepare for the TOEFL, you’ll need to prioritize your studying a bit.


During the first week, take the first practice test. Then dedicate 6 hours this week to the two 
areas that you feel least comfortable with. Spend 1 or 2 hours doing a bit of practice on your 
two stronger areas.


At the beginning of the second week, take the second practice test. Then invest 6 hours this 
week on the two subjects that are lowest on this test. Spend another 2 hours reviewing the areas 
that you feel better about.


At the beginning of the third week, take the third practice test. This week, though, you’re going 
to shift gears and focus on the areas that are the strongest so you can get as many points out of 
them as possible.


At the beginning of the fourth week, take the last practice test. This week, you won’t focus on 
any particular area. Instead, you’ll spend 15 to 20 minutes each day on every subject area. This 
way, you’ll end up spending between an hour and an hour and a half, total, each day.


2 Weeks Out
If your test is two weeks away, your best bet is to focus on the areas you’re strongest in—it 
doesn’t matter where the points come from, and you’re more likely to see significant improve­
ment over a short timeframe in the areas you feel most confident about already.


At the beginning of the first week, take the first practice test. Once you identify the two areas 
with the highest scores, invest an hour each day in each subject. That means you’ll be studying 
at least 2 hours each day. If you have the time, also spend some time on the areas you feel less 
comfortable with.


At the beginning of the second week, take the second practice test. This week you’re going to 
continue focusing on your stronger areas. Spend at least 2 hours each, divided into 1 hour per 
subject. Also do everything you can to spend at least 15-30 minutes on the areas you feel less 
comfortable with.


22 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







The Week Before the Test
You should allow yourself about four to six weeks of preparation before you take the TOEFL. 
You cannot cram for the TOEFL, but there are some things you can do in the final week before 
the test.


1. Review strategies: Look back over the strategies in this book. Make sure 
you are comfortable with them.


2. Review tasks: Before the test, review the four different tasks on the TOEFL 
(Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing). Familiarize yourself with the 
format and the question types you’ll see on test day.


3. Know the directions: Don’t waste time on test day reading the directions 
for each task. Learn the directions ahead of time. They won’t change.


4. Warm-up questions: Look back at the questions you’ve completed. Review 
how you approached each one. Note any trap answers and question types 
that were particularly difficult for you.


5. Have a plan: Make sure you know the format for your speaking and writ­
ing tasks. Review the structure of your responses. Also make sure you’ve 
reviewed your Personal Order of Difficulty for Reading and Listening so 
you have a plan for which questions to tackle and which ones will get Letter 
of the Day. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to all of this later.)


Beyond the Test
Many students focus so much on the academic prep for their upcoming tests that 
they totally forget other areas that are just as important.


• Sleep! Your brain won’t function very well if you’re not well rested. Make 
sure you get a good night’s sleep every night for at least 3-4 nights before 
the test. The more the better!


• Exercise! Especially if you think you may be nervous going into the test, 
make sure to stick to a healthy exercise schedule. Exercise is a fantastic 
stress reliever! Of course, make sure you ask your doctor for insight before 
you begin any exercise program.


• Eat! Just as your brain won’t work very well without sleep, it certainly 
won’t function without nourishment. Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast 
before you start the test, and take plenty of water and snacks with you for 
the break after the Listening section.


• Prepare Mentally! Many of the world’s most successful athletes spend 
time visualizing themselves executing their sport perfectly. You can do the 
same thing! Picture yourself sitting at the desk, reading a passage com­
fortably and using Process of Elimination easily on the answers. Envision 
yourself listening comfortably to the recordings and making brief notes 
about the important parts of the lectures and conversations. Imagine 
yourself speaking calmly and smoothly during the Speaking section. See 
yourself using your templates in the Writing section.


Study Break
In the midst of your 
hours and hours of 
studying, be sure to 
give yourself a break— 
a study break—and 
take a walk, listen to 
a song you love, eat a 
snack. Giving yourself 
some time to chill and 
disengage is an impor­
tant part of studying 
and preparing for the 
test.


1. Introduction 23







Test Day
On the night before the test, put your practice materials aside and give yourself a break. Make 
sure you know where your test center is, and plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your 
scheduled test time. Be sure to dress comfortably and take a valid photo ID (such as a passport) 
to the test center. You should also take two pencils to take notes, although many centers will 
provide pencils. You may not take anything else into the testing center, so do not take food, 
backpacks, suitcases, cell phones, or laptops.


Option to Cancel Your Scores
When you’ve completed the TOEFL iBT, you will have the option to cancel your scores. There 
are a few really important points to consider before deciding to cancel:


• You will NOT get your money back.
• Your scores will NOT be reported to schools.
• You can’t pick and choose parts of the test to cancel—either you keep the whole 


thing or you cancel the whole thing.
• Your test CAN be reinstated within 60 days for a US$20 fee


(please check http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about/fees/ for current fees).


You should also conduct your research in advance to inquire about how schools view multiple 
tests.


24 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT



http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about/fees/





Part II
Core Concepts
2 Core Concept: Reading
3 Core Concept: Listening
4 Core Concept: Speaking
5 Core Concept: Writing
6 Vocabulary







Chapter 2 
Core Concept: 
Reading
The TOEFL is an integrated exam, which means that 
each task may measure more than one skill. But the 
TOEFL is also a standardized test, which means that 
it consists of definite patterns. Your goal when taking 
the TOEFL is to make sure your responses conform 
to the patterns present on the test. The reading selec­
tions in this chapter will form the foundation for your 
listening and writing goals. Likewise, the skills needed 
to perform well in listening, speaking, and writing are 
closely intertwined. You’ll find that mastering the core 
concepts of one section will also help you on other sec­
tions of the test.







READING ON THE TOEFL
There are three to four reading passages on the TOEFL, each around 700 words. Although 
the TOEFL test writers attempt to simulate the type of reading you will do in a university or 
graduate school program, the reading skills required on the test are very different from the 
skills used in an academic environment. Let’s take a look at a passage.


Scientists at Michigan State University are asking a most challenging 
question. Can a computer program be considered alive? The members of the 
Digital Evolution Laboratory say yes. Computer scientists at the laboratory 
have created a program called Avida that has intrigued not only scientists and 


5 engineers but biologists and philosophers as well.


The Avida project began in the late 1990s, when Chris Adami, a physicist, 
sought to create computer programs that could evolve to do simple addition 
problems and reproduce inside a digital environment. Adami called these 


10 programs “digital organisms.” Whenever a digital organism replicates, it has 
a chance to alter the program of the newly created offspring. In this way, the 
programs mutate and evolve. The goal of the Avida program is to create a 
model that could simulate the evolutionary process.


15 Initially, the digital creations were unable to process numbers in any way. But 
Adami designed Avida to reward digital organisms that were able to work with 
the numbers in some way. The digital organisms that could process numbers 
were allowed to reproduce in higher numbers. In only six short months, the 
primitive program had evolved a number of mechanisms to perform addition.


20 And, most surprisingly, not all of the digital creatures performed addition in 
the same way.


The Avida program now resides at Michigan State University, where it has 
been growing and changing for years. The digital creatures number in 


25 the billions and have colonized more than two hundred computers. The 
organisms compete with one another for resources, and the most successful 
ones are able to make more copies of themselves. Just like living creatures, 
the digital entities also undergo mutations. Mutations that are beneficial 
ensure greater reproduction; harmful mutations have the opposite effect.


30
As a model for studying evolution, the Avida project has been a great 
success. Adami’s digital organisms have suggested solutions to some of 
evolution’s biggest mysteries. For example, Avida has helped disprove the 
theory of “irreducible complexity.” Opponents of evolutionary theory have 


35 suggested that some structures, such as the eye, are too complex to have 
been created in piecemeal stages. The evolution of Avida’s digital organisms 
proves that even extremely complex structures can be developed in stages 
over time.


40 The Avida program’s success has also raised some unintentional 
philosophical dilemmas. Does Avida just simulate evolution, or are digital 
organisms a new form of life? According to the director of the Avida project, 
the processes undergone by the digital creatures are the same as those 
experienced by biological organisms. The only difference is that biological


45 entities are based on strings of DNA, whereas the digital creations from


28 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Avida are based on strings of ones and zeros. In a living creature, different 
sequences of DNA instruct cells to create certain proteins. In one of the Avida 
creations, different sequences of computer code instruct the program to 
perform certain functions. In both cases, the reproduction of the organisms


50 is subject to forces such as competition and mutation.


Now, some biologists are maintaining that the programs in the Avida project 
are alive. The programs live, die, reproduce, compete, cooperate, and 
evolve—activities that many biologists consider the hallmarks of life. One 


55 prominent biologist says, “They don’t have a metabolism—at least not yet.
But otherwise, they’re alive.”


Of course, not everyone agrees that the program’s creations are alive. One 
difficulty is that biologists do not even agree on the definition of life. The


60 diversity of life on Earth constantly surprises scientists, and there are simply 
too many characteristics and qualities to provide one simple definition of life.


Despite these misgivings, the directors of the Avida program remain 
optimistic that their program, even if not considered alive, is leading to a 


65 greater understanding of life in all its forms. It may even facilitate future 
searches for life on other planets. According to one member of the Avida 
team, “The problem that we have now is that we are focused on looking for 
DNA-based life. But there may be other kinds of life out there that we have 
never dreamed of.” The Avida program may provide biologists with another 


70 avenue to explore.


This passage is typical of the passages on the TOEFL. It’s about 700 words long, and it discusses 
an academic topic. It contains some challenging vocabulary words and requires you to read 
about a topic in which you may have no interest or knowledge. Although you may end up read­
ing passages such as this at a university or graduate program, your approach for the TOEFL 
should be very different. For example, in a college course, you would need to read this passage 
very carefully, paying close attention to the details and facts presented in it. That type of close 
reading, however, is neither possible nor necessary on the TOEFL. You should employ a tactic 
called “active reading” rather than close reading.


Working on Active Reading
In this chapter, we focus a lot on active reading. You might ask yourself how that differs from 
how you ordinarily read. Active reading requires you to read with purpose; analyzing the mate­
rial and looking for specific things within that material is something you will be asked to do 
on this section of the TOEFL. We want to make sure you get into the habit now so on test day 
you’ll be prepared. The reading skills necessary for the TOEFL really are different from the 
skills you need for other types of reading that you do. Therefore, to do well on the TOEFL, 
you have to work on active reading. You will have to face many challenges in the Reading sec­
tion. You’ve already seen an example of the level of content and vocabulary you may encounter. 
Perhaps the greatest challenge, however, is to attempt to both read the passages and answer 
the questions in the limited time provided. If you tackle every question, you have only about a 
minute and a half per question, and that’s without allowing any time for actually reading the 
passage!


2. Core Concept: Reading | 29







Therefore, instead of attempting to retain all of the information in the passage, you should fo­
cus on the big picture. Active reading involves completing three major tasks.


1. Stating the main idea: Figuring out what the passage is about
2. Understanding the structure: Figuring out key information by mapping the 


passage
3. Finding the purpose: Figuring out why the author wrote the piece


By mastering the skill of active reading, you’ll be able to not only find the most important 
information in a passage but also effectively and accurately answer the questions that follow 
the passage. After all, you gain no points on the TOEFL for simply reading the passages; you 
get points only for answering the questions correctly.


STEPS TO MASTERING ACTIVE READING


Step 1: State the Main Idea
All passages on the TOEFL have a main idea. The main idea is the central message or 
point of the passage. Finding the main idea answers this question: What is the author 
writing about?


Let’s take a look at a passage and work on learning how to find the main idea.


Sometimes it appears that the human mark on this planet is indelible. In 
only a blink of geological time, 200 years or so, human construction and 
expansion has resulted in the destruction of more than one-fifth of the world’s 
forests, the recession of the polar icecaps, and the creation of a huge hole 


5 in the ozone layer. Additionally, industrial activity has damaged rivers and 
oceans, as well as groundwater supplies. Environmental scientists and 
activists warn that if Earth’s future is not taken into account, humankind could 
very well destroy the planet.


10 However, Earth is an amazingly resilient place. In its 4.5-billion-year lifespan, 
Earth has endured bombardment by cosmic rays and meteors, violent 
earthquakes, volcanism, and frigid ice ages. In light of all these catastrophic 
events, many geologists and ecologists say that Earth could recover from any 
damage caused by human actions.


15
The author Alan Weisman has gone so far as to predict exactly what would 
happen on Earth if all humans were to disappear. Without upkeep, the 
concrete jungles of the world’s largest cities would be slowly reclaimed by the 
wilderness around them. Harsh temperatures would cause pavement to crack.


20 Plants would return to areas covered by streets and sidewalks.


Different fates would await humankind’s other creations. Litter and leaf 
matter would accumulate, and it would take only one chance lightning strike 
to start a raging fire. Many structures would burn to the ground. The steel


30 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







25 foundations supporting larger buildings and bridges would corrode and 
buckle, especially with the rise in groundwater that would accompany the 
clogging of sewer systems.


Without human interference, many of the threatened or endangered fauna 
30 would reclaim their ecological niches. Unfortunately, household pets would 


suffer. In addition, the rat, one of the greatest pests in large cities, would not 
have the waste of humankind to feed off of and would be hunted mercilessly 
by growing populations of hawks and falcons. And the cockroach, which to 
many a city dweller seems to symbolize invincibility, would disappear from all 


35 but the warmest climes without artificial heat to sustain it.


Within 500 years, again barely a heartbeat in geological time, most of 
humankind’s monuments would be gone, covered over by plants and trees. 
It’s happened before; the Mayan civilization in Northern Guatemala survived 


40 for 2,000 years but was swallowed up by the jungle at its end. And after a few 
thousand years, if earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have not obliterated 
everything made by humans, the glaciers would come, sweeping down from 
the mountains, slowly and inexorably destroying everything in their path. 
Several times in its history, Earth has been swept clean by these giant sheets 


45 of ice. The legacy of humankind would be wiped from Earth.


Of course, not every man-made artifact would be reclaimed by nature. Plastic 
is a synthetic material that does not occur in nature. The strong bonds that 
hold plastic together are virtually impervious to natural erosion. Long after 


50 concrete and glass have turned back into sand and all processed metals 
have rusted away, plastics will still be cycling through the Earth’s ecosystem, 
resilient to even the most destructive of natural forces. Some scientists 
believe that plastic molecules may eventually break down entirely, but 
there is no reliable data on just how long complete re-assimilation into the 


55 environment might take. Furthermore, it is impossible to predict just what 
sort of resources Mother Nature might develop in the distant future. There is 
always the possibility that, given enough time, some microbe or bacteria may 
evolve the capability to digest plastic. If nature somehow evolved a way to 
process plastics, then even humanity’s most enduring artifacts might vanish 


60 in the space of a few hundred years.


The question of plastics aside, there is some evidence that Weisman’s view 
may be true. Since 1953, a 150-mile-long tract of land separating North and 
South Korea has been declared a no-man’s-land. After only a little more than 


65 50 years, there is almost no trace of the rice paddies that farmers had created 
and used for almost 5,000 years. Even more spectacular are the flocks of red- 
crowned cranes that now inhabit the zone. These birds are the second rarest 
of all birds, but they have flourished in this area, free from human interference 
of all kinds.


2. Core Concept: Reading 31







To find the main idea, read the first sentence or two of the introduction, the first sentence of 
each body paragraph, and then the first and last sentence of the conclusion.


After reading each sentence again ask yourself, “What is the author writing about?”


Let's gather up the first sentences of each paragraph and the last sentence of the conclusion to 
see what we have.


Paragraph 1
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3


Sometimes it appears that the human mark on this planet is indelible. 
However, Earth is an amazingly resilient place.
The author Alan Weisman has gone so far as to predict exactly what 
would happen on Earth if all humans were to disappear.


Paragraph 4
Paragraph 5


Different fates would await humankind’s other creations.
Without human interference, many of the threatened or endangered 
fauna would reclaim their ecological niches.


Paragraph 6 Within 500 years, again barely a heartbeat in geological time, most of 
humankind’s monuments would be gone, covered over by plants and trees.


Paragraph 7
Paragraph 8


Of course, not every man-made artifact would be reclaimed by nature. 
The question of plastics aside, there is some evidence that Weisman’s view 
may be true.


Last sentence These birds are the second rarest of all birds, but they have flourished in 
this area, free from human interference of all kinds.


When stating the main idea, we must try to tie together all of these topics. Take a look at the 
sentences above and write down what you think the main idea is.


A good answer to this question might be as follows:


If humans were to disappear, plants and animals would soon take over Earth 
again.


Notice how this sentence brings together all of the elements. The sentences from paragraphs 
1, 3, and 4 all mention people; the sentence from paragraph 2 talks about Earth; and the sen­
tences from paragraphs 5, 6, 7, and 8 mention both.


32 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Let’s try it one more time. Try to find the main idea of the following passage, which we saw at 
the beginning of this lesson. Write your answer in the space provided after the passage.


Scientists at Michigan State University are asking a most challenging 
question. Can a computer program be considered alive? The members of the 
Digital Evolution Laboratory say yes. Computer scientists at the laboratory 
have created a program called Avida that has intrigued not only scientists and 


5 engineers but biologists and philosophers as well.


The Avida project began in the late 1990s, when Chris Adami, a physicist, 
sought to create computer programs that could evolve to do simple addition 
problems and reproduce inside a digital environment. Adami called these 


10 programs “digital organisms.” Whenever a digital organism replicates, it has 
a chance to alter the program of the newly created offspring. In this way, the 
programs mutate and evolve. The goal of the Avida program is to create a 
model that could simulate the evolutionary process.


15 Initially, the digital creations were unable to process numbers in any way. But 
Adami designed Avida to reward digital organisms that were able to work with 
the numbers in some way. The digital organisms that could process numbers 
were allowed to reproduce in higher numbers. In only six short months, the 
primitive program had evolved a number of mechanisms to perform addition.


20 And, most surprisingly, not all of the digital creatures performed addition in 
the same way.


The Avida program now resides at Michigan State University, where it has 
been growing and changing for years. The digital creatures number in 


25 the billions and have colonized more than two hundred computers. The 
organisms compete with one another for resources, and the most successful 
ones are able to make more copies of themselves. Just like living creatures, 
the digital entities also undergo mutations. Mutations that are beneficial 
ensure greater reproduction; harmful mutations have the opposite effect.


30
As a model for studying evolution, the Avida project has been a great 
success. Adami’s digital organisms have suggested solutions to some of 
evolution’s biggest mysteries. For example, Avida has helped disprove the 
theory of “irreducible complexity.” Opponents of evolutionary theory have 


35 suggested that some structures, such as the eye, are too complex to have 
been created in piecemeal stages. The evolution of Avida’s digital organisms 
proves that even extremely complex structures can be developed in stages 
over time.


40 The Avida program’s success has also raised some unintentional 
philosophical dilemmas. Does Avida just simulate evolution, or are digital 
organisms a new form of life? According to the director of the Avida project, 
the processes undergone by the digital creatures are the same as those 
experienced by biological organisms. The only difference is that biological


45 entities are based on strings of DNA, whereas the digital creations from 
Avida are based on strings of ones and zeros. In a living creature, different 
sequences of DNA instruct cells to create certain proteins. In one of the Avida 
creations, different sequences of computer code instruct the program to


2. Core Concept: Reading | 33







perform certain functions. In both cases, the reproduction of the organisms 
50 is subject to forces such as competition and mutation.


Now, some biologists are maintaining that the programs in the Avida project 
are alive. The programs live, die, reproduce, compete, cooperate, and 
evolve—activities that many biologists consider the hallmarks of life. One


55 prominent biologist says, “They don’t have a metabolism—at least not yet. 
But otherwise, they’re alive.”


Of course, not everyone agrees that the program’s creations are alive. One 
difficulty is that biologists do not even agree on the definition of life. The


60 diversity of life on Earth constantly surprises scientists, and there are simply 
too many characteristics and qualities to provide one simple definition of life.


Despite these misgivings, the directors of the Avida program remain optimistic 
that their program, even if not considered alive, is leading to a greater


65 understanding of life in all its forms. It may even facilitate future searches for life 
on other planets. According to one member of the Avida team, “The problem 
that we have now is that we are focused on looking for DNA-based life. But 
there may be other kinds of life out there that we have never dreamed of.” The 
Avida program may provide biologists with another avenue to explore.


Write down what you think the main idea is:


Here are the first sentences of each paragraph and the last sentence of the conclusion.


Paragraph 1 Scientists at Michigan State University are asking a most challenging 
question.


Paragraph 2 The Avida project began in the late 1990s, when Chris Adami, a physicist, 
sought to create a computer program that could evolve to do simple addi­
tion problems and reproduce inside a digital environment.


Paragraph 3
Paragraph 4


Initially, the digital creations were unable to process numbers in any way. 
The Avida program now resides at Michigan State University, where it has 
been growing and changing for years.


Paragraph 5
Paragraph 6


As a model for studying evolution, the Avida project has been a great success. 
The Avida program’s success has raised some unintentional philosophical 
dilemmas.


Paragraph 7 Now, some biologists are maintaining that the programs in the Avida 
project are alive.


Paragraph 8
Paragraph 9


Of course, not everyone agrees that the program’s creations are alive. 
Despite these misgivings, the directors of the Avida program remain 
optimistic that their program, even if not considered alive, is leading to a 
greater understanding of life in all its forms.


Last sentence The Avida program may provide biologists with another avenue to explore.


34 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







We could state our main idea as follows:


The features of the Avida computer program have led some biologists to 
consider the program alive.


Because the Avida program is mentioned in sentences from paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, 
we definitely need it in our main idea. The sentences from paragraphs 2 and 4 talk about the 
program “evolving,” “changing,” and “growing.” Later, the program is described as “alive” and 
likened to a “biological organism.” So we also need to put this concept into our main idea.


Main Idea: Paying Attention to Direction Markers
When finding the main idea, pay close attention to direction markers. Some passages introduce 
an idea or a topic, but they go on to discuss the opposite of it.


Here’s an example.


Art has always occupied a special place in society. Many people consider 
artists to be the ultimate authorities on aesthetics, the nature and expression 
of beauty. For much of history, the practice of art was inscrutable, and artists 
were viewed as being somewhat strange and often mad. Even the word 


5 most commonly associated with artists—inspiration—has its own magical 
overtones. Literally, “inspiration” is the breathing in of a spirit. Artists were 
thought of as people who were divinely inspired to create.


Of course, artists contributed to this mythology. Many artists ascribed
10 their talents to the presence of some supernatural agent or “muse.” Whole 


movements of art have centered on the supposedly otherworldly nature of 
art. For example, the Romantic poets believed that art was the search for 
the sublime, a term for them that meant an ultimate expression of beauty 
and truth. The search for this ideal led them to explore both natural and


15 supernatural themes in their works.


Another persistent view of art regarded its divorce from rationality. Reason 
and logic were the province of scientists and philosophers, whereas creativity 
and intuition were the domain of the artists. The two separate spheres of the 


20 mind were supposed to remain distinct.


But in 1704, a major transgression occurred. Sir Isaac Newton, 
mathematician and physicist extraordinaire, published his study of light, 
Opticks. One of Newton’s major discoveries was on the nature of color. Using 


25 a prism, Newton found that white light is actually composed of all the colors 
of the rainbow. He even provided a scientific explanation for the presence 
of rainbows. The artistic community was shocked. A scientist had taken a 
beautiful and magical experience and reduced it to the simple refraction of 
beams of light through the prism of a raindrop. A scientist had intruded into 


30 their sacred territory.


2. Core Concept: Reading | 35







More than a hundred years later, John Keats, one of the most famous 
Romantic poets, accused Newton of diminishing beauty by “unweaving the 
rainbow.” His colleague, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, famously remarked that the 


35 souls of five hundred Newtons would be needed to make one Shakespeare.
And yet, from another perspective, Newton did not diminish the beauty of the 
rainbow; he enhanced it. In his quest to uncover the secrets of the rainbow, 
Newton demonstrated the wonder, creativity, and inspiration of an artist. He 
also gave the world another opportunity to experience the sublime. Newton’s 


40 discovery paved the way for the development of the science of spectroscopy, 
a way of analyzing the chemical makeup of light. Now scientists can look 
at the stars and discern their composition. The sense of wonder this ability 
creates is not much different from the wonder the poet or artist feels when 
gazing at those same stars.


Take a look at the topic sentences from the first three paragraphs. (Note: The first sentence of a 
paragraph is often known as the topic sentence.)


Paragraph 1
Paragraph 2
Paragraph 3


Art has always occupied a special place in society. 
Of course, artists contributed to this mythology.
Another persistent view of art regarded its divorce from rationality.


At this point, you may predict that the main idea of the passage will be about views of art and 
artists. But look at the remaining topic sentences.


Paragraph 4
Paragraph 5


Last sentence


But in 1704, a major transgression occurred.
More than a hundred years later, John Keats, one of the most famous 
Romantic poets, accused Newton of diminishing beauty by “unweaving 
the rainbow.”
The sense of wonder this ability creates is not much different from the 
wonder the poet or artist feels when gazing at those same stars.


The sentence from paragraph 4 is an important one because it contains the direction marker 
“but.” The author is introducing an important new idea contrary to the prior topics. We should 
figure out this new idea. In paragraph 4, the author discusses science s relationship to art. We 
need to make sure this idea is part of our main idea. Look through the passage again. Do you 
see any other direction markers that may clue us in to the main idea?


You may have noticed the following sentence in the last paragraph:


And yet, from another perspective, Newton did not diminish the beauty of the 
rainbow; he enhanced it.


36 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







See if you can come up with a main idea that incorporates these elements. Write down what 
you think the main idea is.


Your answer should look something like the following:


Science does not diminish art but instead provides another source of wonder. 
Thus, it is important to incorporate all parts of the passage. The first part of 
this passage establishes the view of art, whereas the second discusses the 
intersection of art and science.


2. Core Concept: Reading 37







Drill #1: State the Main Idea
For each of the following passages, try to find the main idea. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph and paraphrase 
them. Then, try to state the main idea. Be on the lookout for direction markers!


Passage A
Plants reproduce by seeding. The seed of the plant contains all the necessary genetic information to 
create a new plant, and more important, it is designed to start growing only when the surrounding 
conditions are perfect. For example, the seed of a plant growing in a temperate area will “wait” until 
the cold winter passes before growing. When spring arrives, the seed responds to environmental 


5 triggers such as water intake, rising air temperature, humidity levels, and amount of sunlight. Some 
seeds are programmed in such a way that they will not grow until they’ve passed through a period 
of cold weather.


A germinating seed will first display tiny leaves, called cotyledons. Plants are either monocotyledons, 
10 producing just a single leaf, or dicotyledons, producing two leaves. These tiny leaves quickly grow


into a mature leaf system, which then begins gathering energy for the young plant. Plants gather the 
light of the Sun and transform it into energy in a process called photosynthesis. This process allows 
the plant to produce glucose, which the plant then uses to both further its growth and to produce 
cellulose and starch, two compounds essential to a plant. Cellulose is a strong, fibrous material that


15 gives shape and structure to the cell walls. Starch is stored in the cells and used for energy.


Beneath the surface, the plant’s root system grows and provides not only an anchor for the plant 
but a constant supply of food as well. Some plants possess what is called a taproot system, in 
which there is one main root. Others have a more dispersed root system, which lacks a main root.


20 In either case, the roots of the plant are covered with microscopic hairs, which spread into the 
surrounding soil. These hairs greatly increase the surface area of the root system and allow the plant 
to absorb water and essential nutrients from the soil.


Water drawn in through the roots undergoes a process called transpiration. During this process,
25 minerals are carried up to the leaves of the plant, while oxygen and water vapor escape through tiny 


pores, called stomata, on the surface of the leaves. Interestingly, the movement of water through 
the plant is also responsible for keeping the plant upright; a plant that lacks water will wilt and may 
die. Too much water may also harm the plant by saturating the soil and preventing the roots from 
absorbing oxygen.


30
Once a plant reaches full maturity, its energy is devoted to reproduction. The plant forms 
flowers and fruits, the structures essential to reproduction. The flowers of a plant are typically 
hermaphrodites, meaning that they contain both male and female reproductive organs. Thus, many 
plants are able to fertilize themselves. The flowers of some plants are unisexual, being all male 


35 or all female. These plants require another plant for fertilization. Some plants are polygamous, 
meaning they have both hermaphrodite and unisexual flowers. Fruits are created from the ovaries 
of flowering plants. The main purpose of the fruit is to protect the seed, but many fruits aid in the 
seed’s dispersal as well. For example, a soft, fleshy fruit attracts animals, which eat the fruit and 
thus spread the seeds. Or a pod or capsule will split open and scatter its seeds. Some of the seeds 


40 distributed in this manner will take hold in favorable soil, and the entire process begins anew.


38 | Cracking the TOEFL iBT







Paragraph 1:


Paragraph 2:


Paragraph 3:


Paragraph 4:


Paragraph 5:


Last sentence:


Did you find any direction markers? List them:


Main idea:


Passage B
The business practices of the Intel Corporation, a technology company best known for the 
production of microprocessors for computers, illustrate the importance of brand marketing. Intel 
was able to achieve a more than 1,500 percent increase in sales, moving from $1.2 billion in sales to 
more than $33 billion, in a little more than 10 years. Although the explosion of the home-computer


5 market certainly accounted for some of this dramatic increase, the brilliance of its branding strategy 
also played a significant role.


Intel became a major producer of microprocessor chips in 1978, when its 8086 chip was selected 
by IBM for use in its line of home computers. The 8086 chip and its successors soon became the


10 industry standard, even as Intel’s competitors sought to break into this potentially lucrative market. 
Intel’s main problem in facing its competitors was its lack of trademark protection for its series of 
microchips. Competitors were able to exploit this lack by introducing clone products with similar 
sounding names, severely inhibiting Intel’s ability to create a brand identity.


15 In an effort to save its market share, Intel embarked on an ambitious branding program in 1991. 
The corporation’s decision to invest more than $100 million in this program was greeted with 
skepticism and controversy. Many within the company argued that the money could be better spent 
researching and developing new products, while others argued that a company that operated within 
such a narrow consumer niche had little need for such an aggressive branding campaign. Despite


20 these misgivings, Intel went ahead with its strategy, which in a short time became a resou