Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira


This study aimed to investigate the role of time constraint on second language reading comprehension via the recruiting of 47 Saudi participants who were learning English as a second language. Subjects shared similar level of English proficiency; all participants were in their third semester of English at Aljouf University, Saudi Arabia, at the time of data collection. Participants were divided into three time groups; limited (20 minutes), extended (30 minutes), and unlimited (40 minutes). In terms of stimuli, a reading text was adapted from a standard English proficiency exam, TOEFL. The text consisted of 699 words and was of moderate level in difficulty, calculated as between 8th and 9th grade for native English speakers; passive structures comprised 6% of the text. Questions were also divided into three groups to elaborate the effect of time constraint on each type of questions. The particulars of the study were as follows. Firstly, this study analyzed effect of time constraint on the overall performance on the TOEFL reading passage. Then, effect of time on the three groups, including vocabulary-based questions, literal comprehension questions, and higher order inferential questions. Results revealed that time constraint tends to be an affective factor in reading. In the overall comparison among the 3 different time groups, the unlimited time group showed the highest performance on the reading comprehension task. ii In view of the categories of questions, no significant difference was found on the vocabulary-based questions between time condition groups. The overall low vocabulary scores across groups and the lack of significant effect for time constraint suggest that extended time does not compensate for poor vocabulary knowledge. On the other hand, the unlimited time group demonstrated the best performance relative to the other two groups on the literal comprehension and higher order questions. Of all three categories, the higher-order questions were the most difficult for all three time constraint groups. Overall, the results of this study show that time given to the reading task significantly affects overall reading comprehension scores, but they also suggest that this effect varies in relation to the types of questions.




This thesis is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.