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General writing strategies for TOEFL

TOEFL Writing Section Overview

The Writing section is the fourth and final section of TOEFL. The TOEFL writing section consists of two tasks. First, there is an integrated task, in which you have to read an academic passage and then listen to a lecture on a similar topic. The task is to write a summary of what you have read and heard. The second task is an independent persuasive essay.

During the first part of the writing section, you will have to keep your headphones on because this part involves listening. Since headphones reduce distractions by blocking out noise, you should consider wearing them during the entire section.

General writing strategies

Organize your thoughts first

Don’t start writing as soon as the test begins. The first thing you need to do is to organize your thoughts. Create an outline of your essay and then start developing each point into a paragraph. You can type your TOEFL essay on a computer. While this makes editing easier, you can’t spend a lot of time on this.

Each paragraph should discuss a supporting point and should begin with a topic sentence that mentions that point. The rest of the paragraph should contain detailed explanation, arguments, examples, comparison, contrast etc.

Don’t spend more than 2-3 minutes on the outline. Quickly decide the topics and the details for each paragraph and then start writing.

Vocabulary

Don’t feel pressurized to use unfamiliar vocabulary. This is a huge mistake. Many students think that they should use long and sophisticated words to impress the examiner. While there is nothing wrong with using difficult words, if you are not familiar with them, you will probably make more mistakes. This will upset your whole plan.

Be yourself and use the kind of vocabulary you would normally use. This helps save time. Remember that you will get only about 30 minutes to write your TOEFL essay. You can’t spend half of that time thinking of longer and obscure words.