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TOEFL Writing Section: Integrated Task Strategies

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  • 0:01 Integrated Writing
  • 0:54 The Passages
  • 3:13 The Essay
  • 5:24 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.

Worried about the integrated task on the TOEFL Writing section? Don't panic: here are some strategies to see you through and tips to help you get your highest score.

Integrated Writing

Worried about the Integrated Task on the TOEFL Writing section? Don't panic: here are some strategies to see you through and tips to help you get your highest score.

On the TOEFL, integrated writing tasks ask you to read and listen to information in English and then summarize it in writing. First, you'll read a passage in English. Then, you'll listen to a speaker talking about the same subject that was covered in the reading passage. Finally, you'll have to write a summary covering the main points of the listening passage and explain how they relate to the reading passage.

The whole thing takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and the suggested length for the written passage is around 150-225 words. Using reading, listening, and writing skills in one assignment can get pretty tough, so here are some tips and strategies for making everything work for you.

The Passages

First, we'll go over how to tackle the reading and listening material as efficiently as possible without missing anything important. The main goal here is to take notes that will help you compare and contrast the passages. You know in advance that the prompt will ask you about that, so spend all your note-taking energy focusing on it.

Here's how to make it work. You'll start with the reading passage. You'll have 3 minutes to read approximately 230-300 words. For comparison, 230-300 words is about as long as the Gettysburg Address, twice as long as a Shakespearean sonnet, or three times as long as the opening crawl from Star Wars.

You'll be able to take notes during the reading passage, but because of the way the test is set up, you'll want to approach this strategically. Specifically, don't worry about anything but the author's major points and important key words.

Why wouldn't you want to take notes on everything you can write down? Because you'll be able to look at the reading passage again as you write your essay. You'll have the original passage right there in front of you, so there's no need to frantically write down everything it says.

So then why take notes at all? Because the notes you take on the reading passage will help you in the next step of the note-taking process: the listening passage.

Taking notes on the listening passage is critical, because you only hear it once and then it's gone. It's not like the reading passage; it won't come back. So you really have to be on your game here. Remember that the prompt will ask you to connect important points in the listening passage to important points in the reading passage; all your notes revolve around that.

Having a quick list of the main points in the reading passage will help you actively listen to the listening passage, so you can quickly identify similarities and differences. In fact, you might even want to organize your notes into two columns:

Sample columns for taking notes
sample structure for note taking

On the left are the student's notes on the reading. On the right, there's a space for writing down where the listening passage agrees or disagrees with the reading passage. At the bottom, there's a space for anything else about the listening passage.

The Essay

After taking all your notes, you'll move on to writing the essay itself. The prompt is always the same: you'll have to summarize the important main points in the listening passage and explain how they relate to the points of the reading passage.

Your essay should follow a basic structure that looks something like this:

A. Introduction - quickly list the points of agreement and disagreement

B. Point 1

a. Listening passage

b. Reading passage

C. Point 2

a. Listening passage

b. Reading passage

D. Point 3

a. Listening passage

b. Reading passage

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