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Part VII: Reading Comprehension

In Part VII you will read passages in the form of letters, ads, memos, faxes, schedules, etc. The reading section has a number of single passages and 4 double passages. You will be asked 2-4 questions about each single passage, and 5 questions for each double passage. Sometimes you will be asked for specific
details. Other times you will be asked about what the passage implies. In the paired passages you will also be asked to make connections between the two related texts. On the real test you will not have time to read every word. You need to practice scanning and reading quickly for details.

Example 1: Memo


To: Supervisors
From: Judy Linquiest, Human Resource Manager
Sub: Probation periods

As of January 1st all new employees will be subject to a 3 month probationary period. Medical, holiday, and flextime benefits will not apply to new staff members until the full 3 months have expired. After the three months have been completed, please contact your employees and inform them that their probationary period has ended. The HR department will contact you by email 2 days in advance to remind you of the date. Thank you for your cooperation.

1. What is the main purpose of this memo?

A) To inform all employees of a new expiration date.
B) To put staff members on probation.
C) To introduce the HR department.
D) To inform supervisors of a change in policy.

Explanation 1:

  • Choice A is incorrect because the memo is only for supervisors and the subject is probationary periods.
  • Choice B is incorrect because it is only new employees that go on probation.
  • Choice C is who will send the notice to remind supervisors of the date.

The correct answer is D.

2. When does the change come into effect?

A) Today.
B) In 2 days.
C) In 3 months.
D) On January 1st.

Explanation 2:

  • Choice A is not mentioned.
  • Choice B confuses "2 days in advance" (which is when the supervisors will get their notice) with "in 2 days".
  • Choice C is how long the probationary period is.

The correct answer is D.

Example 2: Advertisement


Purchase a 12 month subscription to Vacation the Nation today and receive a free pair of Sunnies Sunglasses with your very own soft leather case.* To get your free Sunnies follow these 3 easy steps.

1. Purchase a copy of Vacation the Nation, New York's #1 Travel magazine.
2. Fill out the application card (found in the center of the magazine)
3. Mail the card and $21. 95 US to the address provided

*This is a limited time offer only. Application and funds must be received no later than Dec 1st 2004. Canadian residents should add $3 US for shipping. Offer not available for residents outside of North America.

3. What is this advertisement for?

A) A summer trip.
B) A travel company.
C) A special deal.
D) A free magazine.

Explanation 3:

  • Choice A confuses travel magazine with trip. The picture of the sun might make you choose this one by mistake.
  • Choice B confuses travel magazine with travel company.
  • Choice D confuses which item is free. In this special offer the sunglasses are free. You have to buy a magazine subscription to get the glasses.

The correct answer is C.

4. How much do the sunglasses cost?

A) They are free with a subscription.
B) They cost $1.
C) They cost $3 Canadian.
D) They cost $21. 95 US.

Explanation 4:

  • Choice B confuses $1 with #1 magazine.
  • Choice C confuses $3 Canadian with 3$ US (the shipping charge for Canadian subscribers).
  • Choice D is the cost of the magazine subscription.

The correct answer is A.

5. Who cannot benefit from this special deal?

A) Canadians.
B) UK residents.
C) North Americans.
D) US residents.

Explanation 5:

  • Choice A can benefit from the deal, but they have to pay for shipping.
  • Choice C confuses outside of North America and North America. Both Canada and the United States are in North America.
  • Choice D can benefit.

The correct answer is B. (The UK is outside of North America.)

Example 3 (double passage): E-mail and Letter

To: "The Shoe People" <inquiries@shoepeople.com>
From: "John Trimbald" <jtconstruction@img.com>
Subject: Customer Complaint

To Whom it May Concern,

I have trusted the Shoe People to protect the feet of my employees for over ten years now. I recently purchased a few pairs of boots from your company for my crew. Though my men were initially satisfied with the boots, the soles began to fall apart on them after just twelve weeks. This was extremely surprising considering they came with a six year warranty. The boots are unsafe to wear because my men are pouring hot concrete. Please respond as soon as possible with instructions on how I can return the boots and receive a refund.

Thank you,
John Trimbald

John Trimbald, Foreman, JT Construction

The Shoe People
22 Circular Rd.
Castlerock, Northern Ireland
BT51 6TP

John Trimbald
JT Construction
22 Mark Lane Rd.
London, England

January 3rd, 2008

Dear Mr. Trimbald,

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the poor quality of our rubber soled black workboots. A representative will be by your office next week to pick up the damaged boots. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and your crew. Along with five new pairs of workboots for your crew (we included one extra pair), we have enclosed a free year's supply of sole protector spray. In our retail stores, this spray is always recommended to buyers who work on heated floors. This should have been brought to your attention at the time of your initial order (received by telephone on October 12, 2007). Please excuse our oversight. To date we have had no complaints about these workboots from customers who have used the protector spray. However, should you use the spray and find that you are still unsatisfied with the boots, please return the boots and spray for a full refund. Thank you for supporting The Shoe People. Have a Happy New Year.


Stan Mason, President

6. Which company was unsatisfied?

A) Stan Mason's company.
B) The Shoe People.
C) JT Construction
D) The sole company.

Explanation 6:

  • Choice A is the person who is apologizing.
  • Choice B is the company that is apologizing.
  • Choice D is not mentioned.

The correct answer is C.

7. How many people are on John Trimbald's crew?

A) Four.
B) Five.
C) Six.
D) Twelve.

Explanation 7:

  • Choice B is how many pairs The Shoe People sent.
  • Choice C confuses an extra pair of shoes with an extra person on the crew.
  • Choice D confuses the date of the initial order with the number of people.

The correct answer is A. (John Trimbald only needed four, but they sent an extra pair.)

8. What is the spray used for?

A) To protect the boots from water.
B) To protect the soles from heat.
C) To protect the floors from soles.
D) To protect the boots from rubber.

Explanation 8:

  • Choice A is not mentioned.
  • Choice C is incorrect because it isn't the floors that need protection.
  • Choice D confuses rubber soles with what needs to be protected.

The correct answer is B.

9. What should John Trimbald do if he remains unsatisfied?

A) Return just the spray.
B) Call the President.
C) Mail another letter.
D) Request a refund.

Explanation 9:

  • Choice A is incorrect because the directions say to return both the spray and the boots.
  • Choice B confuses the phone order with call the president.
  • Choice C is not mentioned.

The correct answer is D.

Now read these 20 TOEIC Tips
Hints and advice to help you. Follow these essential tips to improve your TOEIC score.

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