I have this dream that one day there will be a student who will spend a year or two working on his reading comprehension skills before taking the TOEFL. Maybe he’s an freshman undergraduate who knows he will do his graduate studies in the USA. Or maybe he’s a high school student. If I ever find this student, Reading for Thinking is the book I would recommend to him.
This is a great book to spend a year with and to use as a sort of “strategy guide” as you engage with a variety of books, articles and magazines.
The book starts by describing methods that can be used to increase one’s comprehension of academic texts that can be applied in a variety of contexts. Interestingly, the book’s “reading paraphrase” strategy (pages 16 to 21, 7th edition) mirror one of the strategies that my friend Josh MacPherson uses to teach the TOEFL reading section at TST Prep.
The third chapter of the book includes strategies for identifying “paragraph elements” which, if done quickly, will also be quite useful on test day when students need to answer factual information questions. Obviously this is not a TOEFL book, and it doesn’t take into account the pressure to work really quickly that students have on test day, but those with a long time to prepare for the test have the luxury of focusing on how to parse academic texts in a more general way.
There are also sections on building an academic vocabulary. That’s not something I think is especially important for people who have a short term to prepare for the TOEFL, but is another thing that students who have a long time to prepare can focus on.
What makes this book a perfect study companion is that it contains a couple of dozen really wonderful academic articles, all of which are close to the same difficult level as the real test (though perhaps a bit easier). These are accompanied by ample skill-building exercises.