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Use Mental Floss for TOEFL Practice


What is Mental Floss? It’s website full of articles and videos. Many of the articles cover subjects vocabulary that are good for TOEFL practice.

If you use Mental Floss for TOEFL practice, you’ll want to focus more on the articles than the videos. It’s the articles that are the most TOEFL-like. (The videos are fun, but tend to feature interesting footage rather than TOEFL-style speech.)

Mental Floss has a maze of tagged subjects for its articles that never seems to end. Not every Mental Floss topic is suitable for the TOEFL–but a lot of them are. I’ve looked over the website and found quite a few TOEFL-like articles you’ll want to check out. These articles are categorized in a few different ways.

TOEFL Practice: Science

Mental Floss’s science tag is the most obvious category to check, since the TOEFL loves reading passages and lectures about the sciences. And Mental Floss has a mix of science subjects a lot like the ones on the exam.  Some of the most TOEFL-like science articles on the site cover subjects like the hunting habits of batsthe extinction of the dinosaurs, and the chemistry of coffee.

There are a few less TOEFL-like articles that are not quite as useful for TOEFL– covering subjects such as the science of hair and hairstyles or personal health tips, for instance. But these can be good lightfun reading for general English skills practice.

There are two other science-based article categories on Mental Floss— genetics and outer space. We’ll look at those next.

TOEFL Practice: Genetics

This scientific topic on Mental Floss is almost 100% TOEFL-like in terms of subject matter and vocabulary. While nothing on Mental Floss’s genetics web page (or the rest of the site) is exactly like what you’d see on the TOEFL, pretty much every genetics article either focuses on or at least touches on a topic that would fit in well on the exam. And TOEFL vocabulary is everywhere in the readings from this category.

I’d like to highlight a few articles that are especially TOEFL-like in this very useful category of Mental Floss articles. These readings on the genetic origins of domestic dogs and Scottish red deer are excellent for TOEFL practice. So is this passage on natural selection in farmed fish.

TOEFL Practice: Space

Passages and lectures about planets, stars, and so on are common on the TOEFL. Mental Floss also has a set of space-related articles. Again, you have some very TOEFL-like stuff–a reading about early twentieth century astronomy and a study of weather conditions on the surface of Mars, to give two examples. And once more, we also see some less TOEFL-like supplemental reading practice– I particularly enjoyed this article about how to bake a cake that looks like the planet Jupiter.

The takeaway

Bear in mind that the readings in Mental Floss are not identical to what you’d see on the TOEFL. Although the vocabulary and subject matter are often in line with the TOEFL exam, the writing style is less formal and more playful. But this entertaining tone can help you have fun and develop an interest in TOEFL topics during your TOEFL practice.

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