TOEFL Writing Section Overview

TOEFL Writing Section Details

What is a good written response on the TOEFL? The essay should effectively address a topic. The response should be well-organized and well-developed using relevant explanations and detailed support. Furthermore, it should also display unity, progression, and coherence. If you want to achieve a high writing score, make sure that you demonstrate syntactic variety and appropriate word choice with minor grammatical errors.

TOEFL Writing Purposes

  • Information Processing – You need to be able to synthesize and summarize what you have read in your textbooks and heard in and outside of the class.
  • Viewpoints Formation – You need to form your own opinion in response to the information you have processed.
  • Delivery – Your essay should have a clear main idea and a good structure with well-developed ideas supported by coherent evidence. Follow the conventions of spelling, punctuation, and layout.
  • Language Use – Your essay should demonstrate effective use of grammar and vocabulary.
  • Topic Development – Your essay should have the proper length, tone and conclusion. A clear progression of ideas with effective linking words (transitional phrases) is also necessary for a high score.

    TOEFL Writing Format

    The TOEFL writing portion contains two types of questions, the first is an integrated task that combines reading, listening, and writing. You will have 20 minutes to complete this task. The second question is an independent writing task that takes 10 minutes to complete regarding an Academic discussion topic. Test takers are allowed to take notes on the reading passage. Responses are typed into the computer and sent to ETS' Online Score Network.

      TOEFL Writing Question Types by Format and Content

      Task 1: Integrated Writing Task

      • Test takers read a short text of about 230–300 words (3 minutes' reading time) on an academic topic.
      • The reading passage then goes away during the lecture that follows; it reappears when it is time for the test takers to begin writing so they can refer to it as they are working.
      • Test takers listen to a speaker discussing the same topic from a different perspective. The listening passage is about 230–300 words long (or about 2 minutes' listening time).
      • The listening passage provides additional information that relates to points made in the reading passage; test takers may take notes on the listening passage.
      • Test takers are asked to write a summary in connected English prose of important points made in the listening passage and explain how these relate to the points made in the reading passage.
      • Suggested response length is 150–225 words; however, there is no penalty for writing more, as long as it is in response to the task presented.

      Task 2: Independent Writing

      • Test takers are asked to write an essay that states, explains, and supports their opinion in an online classroom discussion.
      • Test takers need to develop support for their opinions or choices, rather than simply listing personal preferences or choices.
      • Typical essay questions begin with statements such as:

        • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Use reasons and specific details to support your answer.
        • Some people believe X. Other people believe Y. Which of these two positions do you prefer/agree with? Give reasons and specific details.