TOEFL essay: the best methods to succeed

What is TOEFL essay

TOEFL writing section tests candidates ‘ability to write in English, and can be divided into two different types of tasks: an Integrated Writing Task and an Independent Writing Task. The Integrated Writing Task asks candidates first to read a passage of nearly 260 words about an academic topic for three minutes, and then listen to a short lecture related to the topic which lasts about 1 minute 45 seconds. Then it requires candidates to write a TOEFL essay of about 260 words summarizing the points in the listening passage and explain how they relate to specific points in the reading passage. The Integrated Writing Task lasts for 20 minutes and gives candidates opportunities to demonstrate how well and effectively they can deliver ideas expressed in writing about academic information they have read and listened to in their own words.

The second task in the writing section is Independent Writing Task. Candidates will be presented with a question and have 30 minutes to write a TOEFL essay of about 300 words in response providing their own opinions on an issue. The question will be about an everyday topic such as education, family and friends, hobbies, culture, sport, ecology, general truths etc.

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How is evaluate TOEFL essay

For both the writing tasks on TOEFL test, people evaluating writings are not expecting candidates to produce a well-researched, comprehensive TOEFL essay about a highly specific, specialized topic. Candidates can receive high scores with a TOEFL essay that contains some spelling errors. However, ETS raters will look for certain features in each TOEFL essay writing, judging the quality and considering how well candidates develop their ideas, organize their essays and use language to express their opinions.

For Integrated Writing Task, a response that is able to successfully select the important information from the lecture and coherently and accurately present this information in relation to the relevant information presented in the reading is highly rated. Furthermore, if the TOEFL essay writing is well organized and occasional language errors that are present do not result in inaccurate or imprecise presentation of content or connections, ETS raters still consider the writing at the highest level. On the contrary, although the overall response contains some important information from the lecture and conveys some relevant connection to the reading, and connection between points made in the lecture and points made in the reading is vague, global, unclear, or somewhat imprecise or incomplete, the TOEFL essay will be scored at a lower level.

For Independent Writing Task, raters will grade the writing based on development, organization and language use. To get a top score, the TOEFL essay should be well developed, using clearly appropriate explanations, exemplifications or details. Being well-structured and displaying unity, progression and coherence are also consistent with the scoring standards of ETS raters. In addition, if the writing displays consistent facility in the use of language, syntactic variety, appropriate word choice, though it may have minor lexical or grammatical errors, it is still deemed as top level writing.

Best methods to succeed in TOEFL essay

Some practical methods need to be implemented to succeed in writing section. Before taking the exam, candidates need to familiarize themselves with the writing section structure so as to know what to expect in the essay writing and spend considerable amount of time learning and understanding all the types of questions and commonly recurring theme topic to get more efficient and quickly to know how to tackle them. Moreover, it is not the right time to try out new words or expressions that may not be perfectly mastered, so when in doubt, candidates had better use the vocabulary they know well and be simple instead of taking risks. And the equally important thing is to stay focused and work on structuring ideas. Candidates should learn to create vocabulary lists according to exercises and questions, practice and apply different ways to introduce a topic, organize their thoughts into two or three points, propose and nuance their point of view, and develop examples to enable them to write clear and coherent essays.

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