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TOEFL Reading Practice Questions

Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.

Below is a a little less than half of a TOEFL reading passage and 5 associated questions. If you want to time yourself to complete this in the same time you would take for a real TOEFL, you should finish in about 7 minutes, preferably less. Of course, on a real TOEFL you will have a passage that is twice this length and there will be 12 – 14 questions, not just 5, but you will have 20 minutes total.


Chickenpox is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the Varicella zoster virus; sufferers develop a fleeting itchy rash that can spread throughout the body. The disease can last for up to 14 days and can occur in both children and adults, though the young are particularly vulnerable. Individuals infected with chickenpox can expect to experience a high but tolerable level of discomfort and a fever as the disease works its way through the system. The ailment was once considered to be a “rite of passage” by parents in the U.S. and thought to provide children with greater and improved immunity to other forms of sickness later in life. This view, however, was altered after additional research by scientists demonstrated unexpected dangers associated with the virus. Over time, the fruits of this research have transformed attitudes toward the disease and the utility of seeking preemptive measures against it.

A vaccine against chickenpox was originally invented by Michiaki Takahashi, a Japanese doctor and research scientist, in the mid-1960s. Dr. Takahashi began his work to isolate and grow the virus in 1965 and in 1972 began clinical trials with a live but weakened form of the virus that caused the human body to create antibodies. Japan and several other countries began widespread chickenpox vaccination programs in 1974. However, it took over 20 years for the chickenpox vaccine to be approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), finally earning the U.S. government’s seal of approval for widespread use in 1995. Yet even though the chickenpox vaccine was available and recommended by the FDA, parents did not immediately choose to vaccinate their children against this disease. Mothers and fathers typically cited the notion that chickenpox did not constitute a serious enough disease against which a person needed to be vaccinated.


1. The word tolerable in the passage is closest in meaning to
(A) sudden
(B) bearable
(C) infrequent
(D) unexpected


2. According to the paragraph 1, which of the following is true of the chickenpox virus?

(A) It leads to a potentially deadly disease in adults.
(B) It is associated with a possibly permanent rash.
(C) It is easily transmittable by an infected individual.
(D) It has been virtually eradicated in the modern world.

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3.Which of the following best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence? Incorrect answer choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

(A) U.S. parents believed that having chickenpox benefited their children.
(B) U.S. parents believed that chickenpox led to immunity against most sickness.
(C) U.S. parents wanted to make sure that their children developed chickenpox.
(D) U.S. parents did not think that other vaccinations were needed after chickenpox.


4. Which of the following can be inferred from paragraph 2 about the clinical trials for the chickenpox vaccine?

(A) They took longer than expected.
(B) They cost a lot of money to complete.
(C) They took a long time to finish.
(D) They were ultimately successful.


5. The word notion in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) history
(B) findings
(C) fact
(D) belief




Check out my explanation videos! I’m working on many more of these for our premium TOEFL students, so please tell me what you think about those videos in the comments below or by emailing 🙂



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8 Responses to TOEFL Reading Practice Questions

  1. Siddharth W July 17, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Hi Lucas,

    The encrypted answer key you provided looks bit ambiguous to us since there are 6 possible answers to 5 questions (DBCADD) 🙂


    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas July 17, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      You’re right! I just fixed it—sorry about that!

  2. Medard July 29, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    The reading passage is interesting and the questions suit well those of the real TOEFL test. However it would be great and helpfull if you can make the test longer with all type of question (9 question) and put it in the text situation.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas July 29, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      I’m sorry it’s not a full-length passage! This is just a sample of what we’re working on. We’ll have full-length texts with 12-14 questions each, like a real TOEFL, ready for our students as soon as we can. 🙂

  3. jai October 3, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    WOW! this is great! Question 2 was trick. Thanks for the explanation Lucas. Much appreciated.

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas October 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

      You’re welcome!

  4. Nisha December 10, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Hi Lucas,
    Please clear my query that summary questions should be answered in the same order as it is mentioned in the passage? I have taken the barron’s test and i chose the correct options but their order was not correct and it shows in the result that i answered that question incorrectly. waiting for a reply..!

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas December 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      That’s Barron’s mistake. Order doesn’t matter when choosing the answers to a summary question. You can read about those in this blog post. Hope that helps!

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