Toefl Reading Practice Test

TOEFL Reading Practice Test

TOEFL Reading Practice Test

The TOEFL iBT ® Reading section is designed to assess how well you can read and understand the kind of materials used in an academic environment. It includes 3 or 4 reading passages, each approximately 700 words long, with 10 questions per passage. You have 54 to 72 minutes to answer all the questions in the section.

Toefl Reading Practice Test


May 2004


Question 1-10                                                                                                                   5/10


          All mammals feed their young. Beluga whale mothers, for example, nurse their calves for

some twenty months, until they are about to give birth again and their young are able to

find their own food. The behavior of feeding of the young is built into the reproductive

Line   system. It is a nonelective part of parental care and the defining feature of a mammal, the

(5)      most important thing that mammals– whether marsupials, platypuses, spiny anteaters, or

placental mammals — have in common.


          But not all animal parents, even those that tend their offspring to the point of hatching or

birth, feed their young. Most egg-guarding fish do not, for the simple reason that their

young are so much smaller than the parents and eat food that is also much smaller than

(10)    the food eaten by adults. In reptiles, the crocodile mother protects her young after they

have hatched and takes them down to the water, where they will find food, but she does

not actually feed them. Few insects feed their young after hatching, but some make other

arrangement, provisioning their cells and nests with caterpillars and spiders that they have

paralyzed with their venom and stored in a state of suspended animation so that their

(15)    larvae might have a supply of fresh food when they hatch.


          For animals other than mammals, then, feeding is not intrinsic to parental care. Animals

add it to their reproductive strategies to give them an edge in their lifelong quest for

descendants. The most vulnerable moment in any animal’s life is when it first finds itself

completely on its own, when it must forage and fend for itself. Feeding postpones that

(20)    moment until a young animal has grown to such a size that it is better able to cope. Young

that are fed by their parents become nutritionally independent at a much greater fraction

of their full adult size. And in the meantime those young are shielded against the vagaries

of fluctuating of difficult-to-find supplies. Once a species does take the step of feeding its

young, the young become totally dependent on the extra effort. If both parents are

(25)    removed, the young generally do no survive.



  1. What does the passage mainly discuss?

(A) The care that various animals give to their offspring. √           

(B) The difficulties young animals face in obtaining food.

(C) The methods that mammals use to nurse their young.

(D) The importance among young mammals of becoming independent.


  1. The author lists various animals in line 5 to

(A) contrast the feeding habits of different types of mammals

(B) describe the process by which mammals came to be defined

(C) emphasize the point that every type of mammal feeds its own young  

(D) explain why a particular feature of mammals is nonelective


  1. The word “tend” in line 7 is closest in meaning to

(A) sit on Ҳ                    (B) move Ҳ                    (C) notice                       (D) care for


  1. What can be inferred from the passage about the practice of animal parents feeding their young?

(A) It is unknown among fish.                              (B) It is unrelated to the size of the young. Ҳ

(C) It is dangerous for the parents.                       (D) It is most common among mammals.


  1. The word “provisioning” in line 13 is closest in meaning to

(A) supplying                 (B) preparing Ҳ              (C) building                    (D) expanding


  1. According to the passage, how do some insects make sure their young have food?

(A) By storing food near their young.

(B) By locating their nests or cells near spiders and caterpillars. Ҳ

(C) By searching for food some distance from their nest.

(D) By gathering food from a nearby water source.


  1. The word “edge” in line 17 is closest in meaning to

(A) opportunity               (B) advantage             (C) purpose                    (D) rest


  1. The word “it” in line 20 refers to

(A) feeding                     (B) moment                    (C) young animal       (D) size


  1. According to the passage, animal young are most defenseless when

(A) their parents are away searching for food Ҳ

(B) their parents have many young to feed

(C) they are only a few days old

(D) they first become independent


  1. The word “shielded” in line 22 is closest in meaning to

(A) raised                       (B) protected              (C) hatched                    (D) valued






Question 11-21                                                                                                             5/11


          Printmaking is the generic term for a number of processes, of which woodcut and

engraving are two prime examples. Prints are made by pressing a sheet of paper (or other

material) against an image-bearing surface to which ink has been applied. When the paper

is removed, the image adheres to it, but in reverse.


(5)                The woodcut had been used in China from the fifth century A.D. for applying patterns to

textiles. The process was not introduced into Europe until the fourteenth century, first for

textile decoration and then for printing on paper. Woodcuts are created by a relief process;

first, the artist takes a block of wood, which has been sawed parallel to the grain, covers it

with a white ground, and then draws the image in ink. The background is carved away,

(10)    leaving the design area slightly raised. The woodblock is inked, and the ink adheres to the

raised image. It is then transferred to damp paper either by hand or with a printing press.


          Engraving, which grew out of the goldsmith’s art, originated in Germany and northern Italy in the middle of the fifteenth century. It is an intaglio process (from Italian intagliare, “to

carve”). The image is incised into a highly polished metal plate, usually copper, with a

(15)    cutting instrument, or burin. The artist inks the plate and wipes it clean so that some ink

remains in the incised grooves. An impression is made on damp paper in a printing press,

with sufficient pressure being applied so that the paper picks up the ink.


          Both woodcut and engraving have distinctive characteristics. Engraving lends itself to

subtle modeling and shading through the use of fine lines. Hatching and cross-hatching

(20)    determine the degree of light and shade in a print. Woodcuts tend to be more linear, with

sharper contrasts between light and dark. Printmaking is well suited to the production of

multiple images. A set of multiples is called an edition. Both methods can yield several

hundred good-quality prints before the original block or plate begins to show signs of wear.

Mass production of prints in the sixteenth century made images available, at a lower cost,

(25)    to a much broader public than before.







  1. What does the passage mainly discuss?

(A) The origins of textile decoration                     (B) The characteristics of good-quality prints

(C) Two types of printmaking                           (D) Types of paper used in printmaking


  1. The word “prime” in line 2 is closest in meaning to

(A) principal               (B) complex                   (C) general                     (D) recent


  1. The author’s purposes in paragraph 2 is to describe

(A) the woodcuts found in China in the fifth century

(B) the use of woodcuts in the textile industry

(C) the process involved in creating a woodcut

(D) the introduction of woodcuts to Europe


  1. The word “incised” in line 14 is closest in meaning to

(A) burned                      (B) cut                            (C) framed Ҳ                  (D) baked


  1. Which of the following terms is defined in the passage/

(A) “patterns” (line 5)                                           (B) “grain” (line 8)

(C) “burin” (line 15)                                        (D) “grooves” (line 16)


  1. The word “distinctive” in line 18 is closest in meaning to

(A) unique                  (B) accurate                    (C) irregular                   (D) similar


  1. According to the passage, all of the following are true about engraving EXCEPT that it

(A) developed from the art of the goldsmiths

(B) requires that the paper be cut with a burin

(C) originated in the fifteenth century

(D) involves carving into a metal plate Ҳ


  1. The word “yield” in line 22 is closest in meaning to

(A) imitate Ҳ                  (B) produce                    (C) revise                       (D) contrast


  1. According to the passage, what do woodcut and engraving have in common?

(A) Their designs are slightly raised.

(B) They achieve contrast through hatching and cross-hatching. Ҳ

(C) They were first used in Europe.

(D) They allow multiple copies to be produced from one original.


  1. According to the author, what made it possible for members of the general public to own prints in the sixteenth century?

(A) Prints could be made at low cost.

(B) The quality of paper and ink had improved.

(C) Many people became involved in the printmaking industry. Ҳ

(D) Decreased demand for prints kept prices affordable.


  1. According to the passage, all of the following are true about prints EXCEPT that they

(A) can be reproduced on materials other than paper Ҳ

(B) are created from a reversed image

(C) show variations between light and dark shades

(D) require a printing press











Questions 22-31


          The first peoples to inhabit what today is the southeastern United States sustained

themselves as hunters and gathers. Sometimes early in the first millennium A.D., however,

they began to cultivate corn and other crops. Gradually, as they became more skilled at

Line    gardening, they settled into permanent villages and developed a rich culture, characterized

(5)      by the great earthen mounds they erected as monuments to their gods and as tombs for

their distinguished dead. Most of these early mound builders were part of the

Adena-Hopewell culture, which had its beginnings near the Ohio River and takes its name

from sites in Ohio. The culture spread southward into the present-day states of Louisiana,

Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Its peoples became great traders, bartering jewellery,

(10)    pottery, animal pelts, tools, and other goods along extensive trading networks that

stretched up and down eastern North America and as far west as the Rocky Mountains.


          About A.D. 400, the Hopewell culture fell into decay. Over the next centuries, it was

supplanted by another culture, the Mississippian, named after the river along which many

of its earliest villages were located. This complex civilization dominated the Southeast from

(15)    about A.D. 700 until shortly before the Europeans began arriving in the sixteenth century.

At the peak of its strength, about the year 1200, it was the most advanced culture in North

America. Like their Hopewell predecessors, the Mississippians became highly skilled at

growing food, although on a grander scale. They developed an improved strain of corn,

which could survive in wet soil and a relatively cool climate, and also learned to cultivate

(20)    beans. Indeed, agriculture became so important to the Mississippians that it became

closely associated with the Sun – the guarantor of good crops. Many tribes called

themselves “children of the Sun” and believed their omnipotent priest-chiefs were

descendants of the great sun god.


          Although most Mississippians lived in small villages, many others inhabited large towns.

(25)    Most of these towns boasted at least one major flat-topped mound on which stood a

temple that contained a sacred flame. Only priests and those charged with guarding the

flame could enter the temples. The mounds also served as ceremonial and trading sites,

and at times they were used as burial grounds.



  1. What does the passage mainly discuss?

(A) The development of agriculture

(B) The locations of towns and villages

(C) The early people and cultures of the United States

(D) The construction of burial mounds


  1. Which of the following resulted from the rise of agriculture in the southeastern United States?

(A) The development of trade in North America Ҳ

(B) The establishment of permanent settlements

(C) Conflicts with other Native American groups over land

(D) A migration of these peoples to the Rocky Mountains.


  1. What does the term “Adena-Hopewell” (line 7) designate?

(A) The early locations of the Adena-Hopewell culture

(B) The two most important nations of the Adena-Hopewell culture

(C) Two former leaders who were honored with large burial mounds. Ҳ

(D) Two important trade routes in eastern North America


  1. The word “bartering” in line 9 is closest in meaning to

(A) producing                 (B) exchanging           (C) transporting              (D) loading



  1. The word “supplanted” in line 13 is closest in meaning to

(A) conquered                (B) preceded Ҳ               (C) replaced                   (D) imitated


  1. According to the passage, when did the Mississippian culture reach its highest point of development?

(A) About A.D. 400                                               (B) Between A.D. 400 and A.D. 700 Ҳ

(C) About A.D. 1200                                              (D) In the sixteenth century


  1. According to the passage, how did the agriculture of the Mississippians differ from that of their Hopewell predecessors?

(A) The Mississippians produced more durable and larger crops of food.

(B) The Mississippians sold their food to other groups.

(C) The Mississippians could only grow plants in warm, dry climates.

(D) The Mississippians produced special foods for their religious leaders.


  1. Why does the author mention that many Mississippians tribes called themselves “children of the Sun” (line 22)?

(A) To explain why they were obedient to their priest-chiefs.

(B) To argue about the importance of religion in their culture.

(C) To illustrate the great importance they placed on agriculture.

(D) To provide an example of their religious rituals.


  1. The phrase “charged with” in line 26 is closest in meaning to

(A) passed on                                                      (B) experienced at

(C) interested in                                                   (D) assigned to


  1. According to the passage, the flat-topped mounds in Mississippian towns were used for all of the following purposes EXCEPT

(A) religious ceremonies                                                                           (B) meeting places for the entire community

(C) sites for commerce                                         (D) burial sites






Question 32-40                                                                                                                  5/9


          Overland transport in the United States was still extremely primitive in 1790. Roads were

few and short, usually extending from inland communities to the nearest river town or

seaport. Nearly all interstate commerce was carried out by sailing ships that served the

Line    bays and harbors of the seaboard. Yet, in 1790 the nation was on the threshold of a new

(5)      era of road development. Unable to finance road construction, states turned for help to

private companies, organized by merchants and land speculators who had a personal

interest in improved communications with the interior. The pioneer in this move was the

state of Pennsylvania, which chartered a company in 1792 to construct a turnpike, a road

for the use of which a toll, or payment, is collected, from Philadelphia to Lancaster. The

(10)    legislature gave the company the authority to erect tollgates at points along the road

where payment would be collected, though it carefully regulated the rates. (The states had

unquestioned authority to regulate private business in this period.)


          The company built a gravel road within two years, and the success of the Lancaster Pike

encouraged imitation. Northern states generally relied on private companies to build their

(15)    toll roads, but Virginia constructed a network at public expense. Such was the road

building fever that by 1810 New York alone had some 1,500 miles of turnpikes extending

from the Atlantic to Lake Erie.


          Transportation on these early turnpikes consisted of freight carrier wagons and passenger

stagecoaches. The most common road freight carrier was the Conestoga wagon, a vehicle

(20)    developed in the mid-eighteenth century by German immigrants in the area around

Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It featured large, broad wheels able to negotiate all but the

deepest ruts and holes, and its round bottom prevented the freight from shifting on a hill.

Covered with canvas and drawn by four to six horses, the Conestoga wagon rivaled the log

cabin as the primary symbol of the frontier. Passengers traveled in a variety of

(25)    stagecoaches, the most common of which had four benches, each holding three persons.

It was only a platform on wheels, with no springs; slender poles held up the top, and

leather curtains kept out dust and rain.



  1. Paragraph 1 discusses early road building in the United States mainly in terms of the

(A) popularity of turnpikes                                   (B) financing of new roads

(C) development of the interior                            (D) laws governing road use


  1. The word “primitive” in line 1 is closest in meaning to

(A) unsafe                      (B) unknown                  (C) inexpensive              (D) undeveloped


  1. In 1790 most roads connected towns in the interior of the country with

(A) other inland communities                              (B) towns in other states

(C) river towns or seaports                               (D) construction sites


  1. The phrase “on the threshold of” in line 4 and 5 is closest in meaning to

(A) in need of                                                       (B) in place of

(C) at the start of                                              (D) with the purpose of


  1. According to the passage, why did states want private companies to help with road building?

(A) The states could not afford to build roads themselves.

(B) The states were not as well equipped as private companies.

(C) Private companies could complete roads faster than the states.

(D) Private companies had greater knowledge of the interior.


  1. The word “it” in line 11 refers to

(A) legislature                (B) company Ҳ               (C) authority                   (D) payment


  1. The word “imitation” in line 14 is closest in meaning to

(A) investment                (B) suggestion               (C) increasing Ҳ             (D) copying


  1. Virginia is mentioned as an example of a state that

(A) built roads without tollgates

(B) built roads with government money

(C) completed 1,500 miles of turnpikes in one year Ҳ

(D) introduced new law restricting road use


  1. The “large, broad wheels” of the Conestoga wagon are mentioned in line 21 as an example of a feature of wagons that was

(A) unusual in mid-eighteenth century vehicles

(B) first found in Germany

(C) effective on roads with uneven surfaces

(D) responsible for frequent damage to freight Ҳ











Question 41- 50


          In Death Valley, California, one of the hottest, most arid places in North America, there is

much salt, and salt can damage rocks impressively. Inhabitants of areas elsewhere, where

streets and highways are salted to control ice, are familiar with the resulting rust and

Line    deterioration on cars. That attests to the chemically corrosive nature of salt, but it is not

(5)      the way salt destroys rocks. Salt breaks rocks apart principally by a process called crystal

prying and wedging. This happens not by soaking the rocks in salt water, but by moistening

their bottoms with salt water. Such conditions exist in many areas along the eastern edge

of central Death Valley. There, salty water rises from the groundwater table by capillary

action through tiny spaces in sediment until it reaches the surface.


(10)              Most stones have capillary passages that suck salt water from the wet ground. Death

Valley provides an ultra-dry atmosphere and high daily temperatures, which promote

evaporation and the formation of salt crystals along the cracks or other openings within

stones. These crystals grow as long as salt water is available. Like tree roots breaking up a

sidewalk, the growing crystals exert pressure on the rock and eventually pry the rock apart

(15)    along planes of weakness, such as banding in metamorphic rocks, bedding in sedimentary

rocks, or preexisting or incipient fractions, and along boundaries between individual

mineral crystals or grains. Besides crystal growth, the expansion of halite crystals (the same

as everyday table salt) by heating and of sulfates and similar salts by hydration can

contribute additional stresses. A rock durable enough to have withstood natural conditions

(20)    for a very long time in other areas could probably be shattered into small pieces by salt

weathering within a few generations.


          The dominant salt in Death Valley is halite, or sodium chloride, but other salts, mostly

carbonates and sulfates, also cause prying and wedging, as does ordinary ice. Weathering

by a variety of salts, though often subtle, is a worldwide phenomenon. Not restricted to

(25)    arid regions, intense salt weathering occurs mostly in salt-rich places like the seashore,

near the large saline lakes in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and in desert sections of

Australia, New Zealand, and central Asia.



  1. What is the passage mainly about?

(A) The destructive effects of salt on rocks.

(B) The impressive salt rocks in Death Valley.

(C) The amount of salt produced in Death Valley.

(D) The damaging effects of salt on roads and highways.


  1. The word “it” in line 9 refers to

(A) salty water            (B) groundwater table     (C) capillary action         (D) sediment


  1. The word “exert” in line 14 is closest in meaning to

(A) put                        (B) reduce                      (C) replace                     (D) control


  1. In lines 13-17, why does the author compare tree roots with growing salt crystals?

(A) They both force hard surfaces to crack.

(B) They both grow as long as water is available.

(C) They both react quickly to a rise in temperature.

(D) They both cause salty water to rise from the groundwater table.



  1. In lines 17-18, the author mentions the “expansion of halite crystals…by heating and of sulfates and similar salts by hydration” in order to

(A) present an alternative theory about crystal growth

(B) explain how some rocks are not affected by salt

(C) simplify the explanation of crystal prying and wedging

(D) introduce additional means by which crystals destroy rocks


  1. The word “durable” in line 19 is closest in meaning to

(A) large                         (B) strong                   (C) flexible                     (D) pressured


  1. The word “shattered” in line 20 is closest in meaning to

(A) arranged                                                         (B) dissolved

(C) broken apart                                               (D) gathered together


  1. The word “dominant” in line 22 is closest in meaning to

(A) most recent                                                    (B) most common

(C) least available                                                (D) least damaging


  1. According to the passage, which of the following is true about the effects of salts on rocks?

(A) Only two types of salts cause prying and wedging.  Ҳ

(B) Salts usually cause damage only in combination with ice.

(C) A variety of salts in all kinds of environments can cause weathering.

(D) Salt damage at the seashore is more severe than salt damage in Death Valley.


  1. Which of the following can be inferred from the passage about rocks that are found in areas where ice is common?

(A) They are protected from weathering.

(B) They do not allow capillary action of water.

(C) They show similar kinds of damage as rocks in Death Valley.

(D) They contain more carbonates than sulfates.

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