Surprises in Section 6

One of the good things about the TOEIC exam is that lots of the skills required to succeed in the exam are transferable between some of the different sections of the test. On a broad level, the CSI Methodology that I recommend – where students look for evidence for each answer that they may find difficult – is applicable to all three parts of the Reading Section of the test. In the Listening Section, the same methodologies can also be applied for sections 3 and 4 because the format of the two sections is the same. Section 5 and 6 also bear some distinct similarities – both have gap-fills, but section 6 has a full text whereas section 5 is individual sentences.. So, in today’s blog, I intend to look at how we can use this to our advantage and also to think about what we need to be on guard for.
Both 5 and 6 follow the same basic principle: You need to fill in a gap in a sentence. To do this you need to apply logic that relates to either the vocabulary or the grammar within that sentence. The good news here is that this means if you master the logic in section 5, you have also mastered it in section 6. When I teach TOEIC preparation classes, I emphasize that the students need to employ the same logic here and that they do not need to over-think the difference between the two sections.
This all sounds great. We get two sections for the price of one as it were. However, ETS – who write the tests – are not stupid. they are not simply going to create two sections that are exactly the same. That would be just ridiculous. This means there are some hidden surprises in section 6 that we need to be conscious of. These surprises all relate to the location of the context for each question. I explained in one of our previous blogs that answering the questions in section 5 and 6 is all about finding the evidence for the answer and finding a context. This can be things like:
  • A time reference to tell us about the tense needed
  • A piece of vocabulary that gives the sentence a context
In section 5 the situation is simple. The context or the time reference will be in the sentence given. In some questions it will be obvious and in others it will be more difficult to discern … but there will always be something. In section 6, most of the time, this will also be the case. In ten or eleven of the questions the evidence or the context will be in the sentence with the gap. However, one or two other questions, it may be earlier or later in the text. This brings us to our key action point.
  • If you can see the evidence by just reading the sentences with the gaps, then fantastic, you can save time. However, always remember that if the sentence does not seem so easy, you may need to look backwards or forwards in the text to find the information you need