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11 January 2023 by AECC
TOEFL Writing Test (A Comprehensive Guide)
TOEFL writing is the fourth section which appears in the TOEFL exam. The primary purpose of this section is to evaluate a candidate's writing skills. Your writing ability in English will be assessed in academic settings, and you must state your opinions and ideas precisely. If you can write in a well-organised manner without any grammatical errors, you will score well in the TOEFL writing test section. Read ahead to get a comprehensive overview of the TOEFL writing section.
Table of Contents
- TOEFL Writing Overview
- How is TOEFL Writing Section Scored? (TOEFL Writing Score)
- TOEFL Writing Test Format (TOEFL Writing Section)
- Types of TOEFL Writing Questions
- TOEFL Writing Samples (TOEFL Writing Template)
- TOEFL Writing Topics (TOEFL Independent Writing Topics)
- TOEFL Writing Tips
- TOEFL Writing Practice
- TOEFL Writing Questions PDF
TOEFL Writing Overview
The TOEFL writing section is one of the four parts of the TOEFL test. The scores you obtain in the TOEFL exam can be used for studying abroad, immigration, and working in foreign countries.
The TOEFL writing section has two tasks:
1) Integrated Writing Task
2) Independent Writing Task
In the integrated writing task, you will have to read a short passage and hear a short lecture. You will write a response based on what you read and listened to. In comparison, you will have to write an essay from your personal experience in response to the writing topic in the TOEFL independent writing task.
How is the TOEFL Writing Section Scored? (TOEFL Writing Score)
You can get outstanding scores in the TOEFL writing section with a well-planned study schedule and TOEFL writing practice. The proficiency level in the TOEFL writing section ranges from below basic to advanced level. The total score range for the TOEFL writing section is 30. The table below shows how TOEFL writing is scored.
TOEFL Writing Score Chart
TOEFL Writing Score Range is 0–30
Advanced Level (24–30)
High-Intermediate Level (17–23)
Low-Intermediate Level (13–16)
Basic Level (7-12)
Below Basic Level (0-6)
TOEFL Writing Test Format (TOEFL Writing Section)
TOEFL Writing Pattern
1) Integrated Writing Task
You will read a small passage, hear a short lecture and write your responses based on what you read and listened to. The total time limit for an integrated writing task is 20 minutes.
2) Independent Writing Task
You will write an essay related to your personal experience in response to a writing topic. The total time limit for independent writing tasks is 30 minutes.
You have a time limit of 50 minutes to complete the TOEFL writing section.
TOEFL writing tasks are scored based on the Writing Scoring Guides (Rubrics), which is a combination of certified human raters and AI scoring. Raw scores are evaluated to a scaled section score of 0-30.
Types of TOEFL Writing Questions
1. Integrated Writing Question
In this section, you will read a passage regarding an academic topic. After that, you will listen to a lecture related to the same topic. You will be asked a question regarding both the text and the audio. Your response should be within 150-225 words. Your scores in this section will depend on your writing quality and how well you answer each question. Once you have heard the lecture, you have twenty minutes to plan accordingly and write your response.
2. Independent Writing Question,
This writing section of the test will have questions about your common experiences. You will be asked to state your opinion and give reasons and examples. It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of the topic. There is a time duration of 30 minutes to prepare the essay in response to the question given.
TOEFL Writing Samples (TOEFL Writing Template)
Integrated Writing Essay Topic:
Life on Mars (Reading Passage) (TOEFL Writing Template)
Scientists have long been interested in the possibility of life on Mars. The harsh conditions on the planet's surface appear to make it inhospitable to most known life forms. However, three recent discoveries suggest that there may be life on Mars.
Firstly, extensive amounts of methane have been noticed in the Martian atmosphere. This indicates the existence of living methanogens, tiny organisms that emit methane into the atmosphere as a by-product of their life processes.
Secondly, researchers have found evidence of ancient organic material on Mars. This raises the possibility that some form of microbial life once existed on the planet, even though conditions may be too hostile now. Methanogens are a type of microorganism that can obtain energy from hydrogen in rocks and do not require oxygen or sunlight to live. This makes them able to survive in harsh environments like Mars.
A meteorite found in Antarctica in 1996 provides strong evidence for the existence of life on Mars. The meteorite's chemical composition indicates that it is from the surface of Mars and comprises undiluted and perfect crystals of the compound magnetite. Magnetite crystals are produced naturally only by bacteria, which strongly indicates that there was once life on Mars. The presence of hydrogen on Mars, as observed by NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft in 2001, suggests the potential for water on the planet that could support organisms. Hydrogen was detected in the top layer of Martian soil, which is consistent with the presence of liquid water beneath the surface. This provides a favourable environment for microscopic life forms.
Narrator: Now, listen to a lecture section on the topic you just read about.
Professor: The planet of MARS has always been a place of curiosity for humans. Could there be life on MARS? The evidence that backs the life theory on MARS could be more precise. Non-biological methods like volcanic eruptions can create methane. The same experiments that witnessed the atmospheric methane also revealed recent volcano movement. Moreover, unlike methanogens, volcanoes are found on MARS.
Methane on Mars could be from volcanoes, as no methanogens have been found yet. However, it's also possible that the magnetite crystals found in a Martian meteorite are actually formed by bacteria - though there's no hint that the bacteria originated on Mars. The meteorite came to Earth roughly 13,000 years ago and may have become exposed to bacteria on Earth since then.
Indeed, recent research suggests that the meteorite has become contaminated by Earth’s bacteria. It is impossible to use the magnetite crystals on the meteorite as evidence of life on Mars, as the sample has been infected. Furthermore, recent investigations suggest that any water near the surface of Mars is most likely frozen rather than in liquid form. This would not be a hospitable environment for life.
Prompt: You need to summarise the points given in the lecture. Moreover, you must describe how they state doubt on the specific points in the reading passage.
Independent Writing Essay Topic:
There are pros and cons to both rural and urban living. It really depends on what you're prioritising in your life. Do you want more space and a slower pace of life? Or do you want to be close to the conveniences and have more entertainment options? Which one do you prefer? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
Sample Essay: (TOEFL Writing Template)
You meet someone, fall in love, get married and then decide to move to the suburbs. You have kids, and your life becomes all about them. While this may have been the case for the past generations, more and more couples are settling in the city today. A city has much more to offer a new family than a rural area. Things like jobs, institutions and support systems are much easier to come by in a big city.
In general, young couples have more work opportunities in a city than in a rural area. Unemployment is often lower in urban centres as many big organisations hire candidates for diverse roles. In comparison, many jobs in rural areas are seasonal. Additionally, large companies are more likely to be based in cities. The cost of living is typically higher in cities than in rural areas, but city workers also earn higher salaries.
Living in a city has its own advantages, as it offers access to important institutions such as hospitals and schools. People living in rural areas do not have access to these types of resources, so it is better for them to move to urban areas to access these facilities easily. For instance, people who live in rural areas often have to travel to cities for medical attention. This can lead to financial burdens. Parents and kids may commute far distances by bus for work and school. This amount of time spent commuting takes away family time. Additionally, kids who grow up in rural areas are less likely to attend post-secondary schools. Most children go to cities to receive a good education.
The support system for young couples is often stronger in cities than in rural areas. When a young couple moves away from this support system, they can feel isolated. However, small communities are usually close and friendly. So meeting new friends in a small town does not take long. Small towns often have close-knit communities which can provide support for young couples.
People are increasingly choosing to live in cities, especially young families. There are many reasons for this, including that people start families later in life. I have already established my career and home in a city, and all my friends and family are here. When I meet my future spouse, I hope they will agree to settle down with me in the city.
TOEFL Writing Topics (TOEFL Independent Writing Topics)
The following are some TOEFL Writing Topics:
- It feels good to grow up with your siblings rather than be a single child. Do you agree or disagree? Give specific examples and reasons to develop your essay.
- Do you agree or disagree with the below statement? It is better to take a student loan to avoid working during your studies. Give specific examples and reasons to give your answer.
- Some people feel it is better to stay with a roommate, and others like to live alone. Which one do you prefer? Living with a roommate or staying alone? Give a specific example and reasons to develop your essay.
TOEFL Writing Tips
The writing section is vital to the TOEFL proficiency test. So it is essential to work on your writing skills, grammar and vocabulary for the TOEFL exam. Refer to the following TOEFL preparation tips for the writing section to get your desired scores.
- Utilise your time effectively, as you have only 20 minutes to draft an essay of 250 words.
- Takedown accurate notes of the audio passage will benefit you while writing the essay.
- Using a suitable form of transitional words and phrases can help you connect with the situation precisely.
- Avoid using long and complex sentences. It is recommended to use a more straightforward and more concise writing style.
- State just one opinion and explain it elaborately while writing the essay, as you need to provide your views on one side of the argument.
TOEFL Writing Practice
Once you have finished writing each essay, you should review how you answered each question. With TOEFL writing practice questions, you will get a complete picture of how each question will be asked. If you have a tutor or friend, you can ask them to review your answers asked in the TOEFL writing practice questions.
TOEFL Writing Questions PDF
Refer to the link below to practice questions that will be asked in the TOEFL writing test. The practice questions are usually taken from academic textbooks. Use the PDF below to get a complete overview of the question types asked in the TOEFL exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can write the TOEFL exam in two ways: paper-based and internet-based tests. For the paper-based test, you can choose your own exam centre, and you may also opt for iBT Home Edition to take the test conveniently from home. The total time allotted for the TOEFL exam is sufficient to complete it on time.
You can improve your TOEFL writing score with the following tips:
- Use proper spelling and grammar while writing.
- State your opinions in a well-organised and precise manner.
- Paraphrase and rewrite the crucial points that you heard or read.
- Try writing with your own words creatively rather than copying from the essay section.
While you start writing the TOEFL independent essay, form your own essay structure and state your opinions accurately in the first paragraph. Plan the essay with a clear outline and use key points in the paragraph. Have a specific word limit for each paragraph. You also need to provide examples to support your opinions in the essay.