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Structure of the TOEFL Writing Section

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  • 0:01 TOEFL Writing
  • 0:53 The Integrated Task
  • 2:21 The Integrated Task
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

The writing portion of the TOEFL tests your ability to write academic-style English prose. Here's an overview of what the writing section looks like and how it's scored.

TOEFL Writing

The TOEFL writing section is a test of how well you can produce the kind of English writing you'd need to do in school. In total, you'll be working on the writing section for 50 minutes. It's broken up into two tasks: an independent task and an integrated task.

  • The integrated task requires you to read a passage and listen to a speaker on the same topic, then, write about that topic. This task takes about 20 minutes.
  • The independent task requires you to take a position on an issue and support it with evidence and reasons. This task takes about 30 minutes.

The test is completely computerized, so you'll be doing the whole thing on a keyboard.

The Integrated Task

On the integrated task, you'll be writing about information that you read and listen to. That's why it's called 'integrated' - because it integrates your skills in reading and listening as well as writing.

First, you'll have three minutes to read a short passage. You can take notes while you read, but don't try to write down everything, because the reading passage will be available to you as you write. Then, the passage will disappear, and you'll listen to a lecture for two minutes. The lecture will be on the same topic as the reading passage. You can take notes on this, too. Then, the reading passage will reappear on the screen, and you'll start writing.

The writing assignment for the integrated task is always the same: summarize the main points of the listening passage and explain how they're related to the main points of the reading passage. Most students end up writing between 150 and 225 words, but there is no upper limit.

This task is graded on how organized and grammatically-correct your writing is and how well you respond to the prompt and include all the important information. You'll get marked down for things like incorrect grammar, awkward usage or leaving out important information in either of the passages. It's important to pay attention to grammar and language, but your answers don't have to be perfect to score well. You can still get a high score even if you make a few mistakes.

The Independent Task

After the integrated task, you'll move on to the independent task. This one takes about 30 minutes to complete.

On the independent task, you won't have to listen to anything or read any passages. Instead, you'll get a prompt that asks you to choose between two opinions or decide whether or not you agree with a statement. Then, you'll have to write an essay explaining your position and supporting it with evidence and reasons.

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