Hey, it’s time for another installment of “You Should Read More!” This blog series encourages you to increase your TOEFL reading score by reading more stuff. By reading stuff, you can develop your reading skills. The theme here is “comprehension before strategies.”
But not only does reading stuff develop your skills, it also increases your ability to concentrate on dense academic content like what appears on the TOEFL. Personally, I find that unless I force myself to read academic content on a regular basis my mind starts to wander when I am faced with a challenging text. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand the text, but rather that I can’t focus on it.
This month I read the September issue of National Geographic. I love this magazine. Every month I get a ton of great articles, and the cost of subscribing is pretty low. Right now it’s just $19 per year in the USA, and $59 per year worldwide. Or you can just read most of the articles for free online. This month there is a great story about ostrich behavior that I really enjoyed. And it goes without saying that ETS loves to write questions about animal behavior.
This month I also read two issues of Analog Science Fiction. Now, you’re probably rolling your eyes at me now… but hear me out! The issues contained the first two parts of a serialized novel called “House of Styx.” The novel is about colonists on Venus who live in a station sort of like the “station… floating in Venus’s atmosphere, like a balloon, rather than standing on its surface” described in the integrated writing question of TPO 40! The science here is well done, and the characters are sympathetic. If you are interested, don’t waste your time trying to get the magazines pictured here – just get the Kindle version from Amazon.
Next, I’m going to send you to an actual TOEFL book. I reviewed Pamela Sharpe’s “TOEFL Practice Exercises” last week and observed that the book has somewhat inaccurate questions. But it does have thirty-four reading passages about topics that commonly appear on the TOEFL. They are also at the same difficulty level and are of the same length as what you’ll get on the test. You’ll never find another collection like it. And you can treat the inaccurate questions as a sort of “skill building” thing that forces you to concentrate a bit more than you really want to. I know I am really mean when I write about TOEFL books, but I do want to stress that I appreciate the effort made by their authors. I could never write such a monumental collection of content. So check it out.
Finally, the late-August issue of “Science News” has an article about a certain beetle that gets eaten by frogs but is still alive after it gets pooped out. Wild. Fortunately you can read that article online. Meanwhile, if you want something closer to what you will find on the TOEFL, the issue also has an article about how smallpox affected Vikings more than 1000 years ago.