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TOEFL Reading Question Type – Insert Text

Text insertion questions give you a sentence not found in the passage and ask you to choose where the sentence would fit best into the passage.  Usually the new sentence will provide you with a clue as to where it should go; this can be a transition word that gives you an idea of how the new sentence relates to surrounding sentences, or it may be a pronoun, including demonstratives like “this” or “those.” If it’s the latter, you can use a process similar to the one you might use to answer a reference question to decide first what the pronoun or demonstrative refers to. That may help you choose the most logical place to put the new sentence.

Even if you think you know the correct answer, it’s always a good idea to try the sentence in every possible location. You can insert and remove the sentence as many times as you need to by clicking on the squares that mark each possible location. Before submitting your answer, be sure that the sentence follows logically from the preceding sentence and leads logically to the next sentence, and that any pronouns agree with the nouns they should refer to.

In the example below (source), I’ve used letters instead of squares to represent each possible location. Give it a try!

In paragraph 5 of the passage, there is a missing sentence. The paragraph is repeated below and shows four letters (A, B, C, and D) that indicate where the following sentence could be added.

Consequently, the idea that the Ir in the boundary clay came from microscopic meteorites cannot be accepted.

Where would the sentence best fit?

Ir has not been common at Earth’s surface since the very beginning of the planet’s history. Because it usually exists in a metallic state, it was preferentially incorporated in Earth’s core as the planet cooled and consolidated. Ir is found in high concentrations in some meteorites, in which the solar system’s original chemical composition is preserved. Even today, microscopic meteorites continually bombard Earth, falling on both land and sea. By measuring how many of these meteorites fall to Earth over a given period of time, scientists can estimate how long it might have taken to deposit the observed amount of Ir in the boundary clay.  (A) These calculations suggest that a period of about one million years would have been required. (B) However, other reliable evidence suggests that the deposition of the boundary clay could not have taken one million years. (C) So the unusually high concentration of Ir seems to require a special explanation. (D)

(A) Option A

(B) Option B

(C) Option C

(D) Option D

First of all, read the passage and summarize it to yourself. This passage is about how the element iridium came to be found on Earth. The passage first suggests that the iridium was deposited by meteorites, but then concludes that that explanation doesn’t really work. Now take a look at our sentence. Helpfully, the sentence begins with “consequently,” so we know that the sentence before it will contribute to the statement that the sentence is making (as opposed to contradicting it). Now summarize the sentence you’re plugging in: the iridium cannot have come from meteorites. Since the beginning of the passage supports the theory of meteorites depositing iridium, this sentence fits best where the author begins to cast doubt on that theory. So A and B cannot be correct. The sentence flows more smoothly and logically in place C than in place D, so our final answer is C.


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2 Responses to TOEFL Reading Question Type – Insert Text

  1. S.S. June 1, 2016 at 3:15 am #

    Would the new sentence be inserted at the end of the chosen black box sentence or before it?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      You insert the new sentence before an existing sentence if you want the new sentence to appear before the sentence and lead into it. If you want the new sentence to be read AFTER an existing sentence, insert the new sentence into a box at the end of the existing sentence. Does this make sense?

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