Cracking The TOEFL iBT – Writing Section


Cracking TOEFL iBT – Writing Section

For the writing section of TOEFL, a student must be able to present his/ her ideas in a clear, well-organized manner and write relevant / pertinent to the task at hand. The writing section measures the student’s ability to write English in an academic setting.

For example, in an academic course, a student might be asked to compare and contrast the points of view expressed by the professor in class with those expressed by an author in the assigned reading material. The student must successfully draw information from each source to explain the contrast. Thus, usually for the integrated writing, the test taker must be able to compare and contrast the points of view expressed by the professor in the lecture and those given in the passage.

For independent writing task, students must be able to express and support their opinions in a lucid form based on their own knowledge and experience.

Helpful tips for all types of writing

  • Always remember to come across clearly and get your points across to the reader in the most manifest manner. Keep in mind that you are writing for a reader.
  • Identify one main idea and some major points that support it.
  • Plan how to organize the essay (You can make a rough outline or draft of your writing), displaying unity of thought and coherence.
  • Develop the essay by using reasons, examples and details.
  • Express information in an organized manner.
  • Use effective linking words or transitional phrases such as “on the other hand”, “conversely”, “firstly”, “in conclusion”, “moreover”, etc. to connect ideas and help the reader understand the flow of ideas.
  • Use a range of grammar and vocabulary for effective expression.
  • Use grammar and vocabulary accurately; use idiomatic expressions appropriately.
  • Follow the conventions of spelling, punctuation, and layout.
  • Always set appropriate length of time aside to proof read your written matter to check for errors and inconsistencies.

Effective tips for scoring well on the writing section of TOEFL iBT

  • Read the statement carefully and make sure you understand it. Always decide on what you are going to write before you start. Make a list of your main points.
  • It should be easy to identify the introduction, development and conclusion.
    Each section should have at least one separate paragraph.
  • Have a clear line of thought. If you are taking a qualified stand, explain well.
  • Address the entire question or statement, not just part of it.
  •  Learn the rules of English punctuation and use them. Each sentence should start with a capital letter and end with a period, question mark or exclamation point.
  • Write short, simple complete sentences. This style sounds strong in English.
  •  Avoid beginning sentences with the conjunctions and, or, but or with because.
  • Make sure that each sentence has a clearly identifiable main subject and main verb and that they agree in number and tense.
  • Use a variety of sentence structures; for instance try to have at least one rhetorical question, passive voice sentence, conditional sentence, complex sentence, etc.
  •  Use specific examples or reasons to support your ideas. Stories or examples from your personal life are best. Remember, no one is checking up to see if these stories are true.


Tips for tackling the Integrated Writing Task

  •  Find reading and listening material on a single topic on the Internet or in the library. The material can provide similar or different views. Take notes on the written and spoken portions, and do the following:

* Summarise the information and ideas in both the written and spoken portions.
* Syntheize the information and discuss how the reading and listening materials relate. Explain how the ideas expressed are similar, how one idea expands upon another, or how the ideas are different or contradict each other.

  •   Drawing up a table, like the one given below, before reading the passage and filling the table as you read the passage and listen to the lecture, could be of great help
Passage Lecture
Main point / Central idea
Supporting reason / detail 1
Supporting reason/ detail 2
Supporting reason/ detail 3


Tips for tackling the Independent Writing Task

  • Practise writing about familiar topics within 30 mins. Make sure to develop and elaborate your opinions clearly.
  • In the pre-writing period, brain storm for about 3- 4 mins and jot the various points, reasons, examples, etc supporting your point of view.
  • Create a focused thesis statement and use it to develop the ideas presented in the essay.
  • Develop the essay by using appropriate explanation and detail.
  • Give a good close or conclusion to your essay.
  • Don’t forget to proof read the essay. Set aside 2-4 mins for proof reading.