TOEFL iBT | Reading | Negative Factual Questions

We got a wonderful one here today. I was going to try and fit a couple into today’s episode but I felt like it would’ve been too long and just too much information. Short and concise is better than long and overbearing. So, we have the NEGATIVE FACTUAL QUESTIONS today! Let’s get into it.

The negative factual question is the only type of question that asks you to choose the incorrect answer. The key to this answer is the words NOT and EXCEPT. NOT will appear in the middle of the question, while EXCEPT will appear at the end. This question will have four answer choices like all other multiple-choice questions in the TOEFL. However, there will be three correct answers and one incorrect answer, and you need to choose the incorrect one.


Not noticing that the question is a negative factual question will result in wasted time as there will be three correct answers. However, now that you know this, seeing three correct answers should immediately tell you, you are answering a negative factual question. 

Let’s not look at any examples, EXCEPT this negative factual example: DO NOT WASTE TIME!

[1] Unlike animal migration, which typically involves groups of animals moving back and forth between seasonal habitats, human migration involves the movement of people who intend to leave one area for good and settle in a new one. This does not include travel for the purposes of pleasure or business; nor does it include nomadism, which is a decreasingly common lifestyle that involves moving from place to place (often in the search for resources) but with no intention of settling permanently or semi-permanently in any one place. 

[2] Although migration, and “immigration” – or the movement to a new country, is a common feature of the 21st century globalized economy, mass human migration is not limited to modern times. Rather, it is a continually recurring development in human societies. Human migration began with the movement of Homo sapiens throughout the African continent 150,000 years ago, out of Africa 80,000 years ago, and into Asia and Australia 40,000 years ago. Since those first prehistoric migrations, human history the world over has continued to be a story of movement. Traditional history books invariably feature maps of different times showing arrows representing mass migrations. In fact, the history of virtually every part of the world, besides the original site of human evolution in Africa, is tied up with migration. 

[3] Of course, economic development has brought a whole new impetus for human movement, as well as the methods of transport that facilitate it. Beginning with the industrial revolution, people migrated from the countryside to cities to work in the new factories (migration within a country is often called internal migration). This movement marked the beginning of an ever-increasing trend of economic migration, in which people move in search of better employment opportunities or better wages. And today’s global economy, it is unsurprising to find groups of hard-working immigrants remitting money home, where job prospects are slimmer and lower-paying. 

[4] Migrating in search of employment is only one of what is known as “pull” factors in migration theory. Pull factors are those attractive aspects of a destination country – or region – that are appealing to migrants. Of course, employment and money are common pull factors, but so is an overall higher standard of living. This explains, in part, why much human migration takes place from less developed to more developed economies or regions. The reason seems obvious: people go where life is better (or perceived to be better, since migrants face a whole new set of obstacles in their new homes that they may not have anticipated). It is not only immediate job prospects that are attractive but also the education that can enhance future employment opportunities. A better standard of living may include pull factors related to health and safety; for example, many people resettle for better medical care and overall greater safety to life and person. 

[5] Jobs and money are economic factors in migration. But the idea of safety leads us to other general reasons for migration. Safety may be related either to environmental factors, or sociopolitical factors. That is, migrants may see their destination as providing an environment that is more stable and safer than the one they are leaving, or they may be seeking a political system that is less arbitrary or authoritarian, with greater assurances of civil liberty and basic protection. But it is wrong to think that migrations take place only out of a sense of urgency about security; consider the mass of North American senior citizens who, in their retirement, choose to migrate to locations with warmer weather. It’s not that their life is at imminent risk in a place with four seasons, but simply that they prefer sunnier climes. Of course, implicit in any decision to migrate is a comparison between two places: seeking a place of greater freedom, or better weather, means escaping a place of lesser freedom, or worse weather, which brings us to “push” factors in migration. 

[6] Push factors are those related to the area or country that a migrant is leaving. That is, they are aspects of a place that make people want to leave it (in some cases, they are forced to leave). Many push factors are economic, including lack of job opportunities and rampant inflation. Others may be sociopolitical, such as cruel or authoritarian governments, leaders, or political systems that mistreat their citizens or rely on torture and repression to inspire fear. Environmental push factors may include natural disasters, or the possibility of them, including tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and drought. Still, other factors may be cultural.


From paragraph 6, which of the following is NOT mentioned as an example of a push factor in migration? 

  1. Inflation
  2. Cruel government
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Job opportunities

Before showing me the answer, can you show me the techniques to answer this question?


Here are the techniques to successfully answer a negative factual question. 

Step 1: Review the question and answer choices carefully 

With negative factual questions, make sure to understand the question precisely and choose the wrong answer. Firstly, let’s look at the keywords in the question: Which of the following is NOT mentioned as an example of a push factor in migration? We understand that we are looking for the answer that is NOT a push factor in migration. Next, make sure you understand what are push factors. In paragraph 6, the text explains that push factors are those related to the area or country that a migrant is leaving…That is, they are aspects of a place that make people want to leave it

Now, read through each answer choice carefully. As the question asks you to choose the incorrect answer, remember that there are three correct answers on the list. Your task is to choose the wrong answer by eliminating the answers that are correct based on information in the text and to identify the only wrong answer

Step 2: Elimination 

Remember that the correct answer to a negative factual question is the option that is contradicting a statement, idea, or is simply not referred to in the text. Therefore, scan for all keywords to determine if they are correct and begin eliminating. If you don’t find all the matching, correct options based on your memory from the text, scan the paragraph(s) again to find direct evidence. 

Step 3: Double-check your choice 

A useful technique is to always double-check your choice before moving on. After finding and eliminating the three options supported by the passage, quickly review the text again to make sure your selected answer is not referred to in the passage. Make sure that you are not tricked by key sentences or words that appear in one optional answer choice. 

Remember that such keywords do not indicate the answer is correct, so read both that answer and the text carefully to make sure you’re not deceived.

I’m ready to see the answer.

The answer is (D) Job opportunities 

A, B, and C are all named as push factors in the same paragraph 6: Many push factors are economic, including lack of job opportunities and rampant inflation. Others may be sociopolitical, such as cruel or authoritarian governments,… Environmental push factors may include natural disasters… 

Answer option (D) offers key words – job opportunities – that appear in the text. When you read the sentence with these keywords again, you see that a push factor is a lack of job opportunities, and therefore, (D) is not a push factor making it the correct answer.

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