Unlike the sentence restatement questions that ask you to choose which answer choice is the one that best simplifies and summarizes the original sentence, the reference questions on the contrary ask you to look at a highlighted pronoun or other reference word from the reading passage. So, under this type of reading section in TOEFL iBT test, you are given roughly around four nouns or noun phrases that are usually taken from the paragraph where the highlighted words are found, and then you must choose which of these words or phrases (called the referent) that the highlighted word refers to. Additionally, when answering this type of reference question, there are two things that you must remember:

1. The referent almost and always comes before the reference word in the passage.

2. The referent is not always the noun that is closest to the reference word.

The following sample below contains some of the reference words that you might be asked about during your reading section in particular of dealing with reference questions.

Technically, in order for you to be able to answer the reference questions easily, the first step is you must look at the passage and read over the sentence in which the highlighted word appears along with a few of the sentences that come before in that sentence. In case if you can’t decide immediately which of the four answers is correct for you to choose, then the second step is substitute each of the four choices for the highlighted reference word and try to think which one is the most logical substitute.

Here’s the sample of a reading passage from one of the preview TOEFL iBT reading tests together with a reference question asked.

By reading the sentence from the above sample, you can see that the phrase ‘these two locations’ refers to the two places where the Kirkland warbler is restricted, for which there are a few places located in Michigan in the summer and the Bahamas in the winter.

As you notice, the first choice gives Michigan as one of the places, but the Appalachian Highlands is mentioned in the passage as the habitat of a type of salamander (not the type of Kirkland warbler). While on the other hand, the second choice does mention correctly the Bahamas but also gives Brazil as the location of the Amazon river and it is further mentioned as a behavioral boundary for many types of birds (not for the Kirkland warbler). The third choice on top of that incorrectly gives both the Appalachian Highlands and Brazil, whereas only the fourth choice that provides both of the locations that the phrase ‘these two locations’ refers to.

Perhaps, you may have this sort of perception in your mind where you probably think that this type of reading section is the easiest part in the reading section of TOEFL iBT test. However, do not underestimate it! And it is necessary for you to be very careful not to answer the questions so quickly simply because of this type of English proficiency test in TOEFL iBT reading section is also the easiest part for you to make mistakes in analyzing which option that the best answers the questions asked.

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