TOEFL Writing Section: Integrated Task Practice

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  • 0:00 Integrated Tasks
  • 0:58 Reading and Listening
  • 6:18 Time to Write
  • 7:06 Scoring Your Essay
  • 7:55 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.

Ready to get some practice working with Integrated Tasks on the TOEFL? Grab a pen and paper and get ready for a full-length practice task to help you prepare.

Integrated Tasks

Integrated writing tasks on the TOEFL ask you to read a passage, listen to a speaker, and then summarize both in writing. These tasks can be pretty tricky, and in another lesson, you got some general strategies for doing your best on them. In this lesson, you'll work through a complete practice question, with a reading passage, a listening passage, and a writing prompt.

To complete this lesson, you will need:

  • A pen and paper - You'll write the actual essay on a computer, but you'll take notes on the passages on scrap paper.
  • A timer - You'll need pause the video and time yourself while you write.
  • 20 minutes without interruption - Go somewhere quiet, and make sure you're ready to concentrate.

Ready to get started? First, you'll read the reading passage. Then you'll listen to a speaker talking about the same subject. Then you'll have to write about both passages.

Reading and Listening

We'll start off with the reading. You'll only see this passage on the screen; you won't hear it narrated. Pull out your pen and paper - you'll be allowed to take notes on the passage as you read. You'll have three minutes to read the passage. The passage will disappear as you listen to the speaker, but it will come back again when it's time for you to actually write.

Today, most workers in the United States have a certain amount of money automatically withheld from their paycheck every month for taxes. This amount is calculated to represent everyone's best estimate of what the worker will need to pay in taxes at the end of the year. Then when tax season arrives, the worker calculates how much she actually owes and compares it to the amount withheld. If she has accidentally underpaid, she pays the difference; if she has accidentally overpaid, she receives a refund.

This system is unfair. First, it deprives each worker of using or investing that tax money during the year. A worker who paid $15,000 in withholdings could have used that money to invest in a business or simply earn interest during the year.

Withholdings also do not save anyone any work, since everyone has to calculate the actual amount they owe anyway. The estimates are usually inaccurate and almost everyone ends up having to deal with a refund or an extra payment. Withholdings do not make tax paperwork any quicker or less painful.

For these reasons, a more rational system would be to do away with withholdings. Each individual would be responsible for saving up her own tax money, and she would have the freedom to invest it and earn interest on it during the year if she pleased.

That was the reading passage. Now you'll listen to a person talking about that same subject. You're allowed to take notes on the lecture as well.

Critics of tax withholdings point to lost potential for investing their extra money. They seem to assume that everyone in the United States, if granted immediate amnesty from tax withholdings, would immediately run out to their bank and make stable short-term investments, carefully look into startup opportunities, or otherwise use that money to make more money.

Experience, unfortunately, shows otherwise. Most people's reaction to getting a paycheck is to spend it until it's gone, and leave the future to take care of itself. A shockingly small number Americans have any retirement savings at all: most people simply will not save for future needs unless they are forced to. If taxes were not automatically withheld from paychecks, most people would spend that money when they received it and then be left scrambling to pay their taxes in April. Some would probably end up falling behind on rent or bills; others would take out loans at exorbitant interest rates. The financial crisis for the majority far outweighs any potential benefits for a few frustrated would-be investors.

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