TOEFL Writing Tips
You have 30 minutes to write your TOEFL essay. So use your time wisely. You may write your essay on the computer or on paper. Choose the format you are most comfortable with.
Read the question carefully. It is very important that you completely understand the question before you begin to write. Have a clear idea as to what you are going to write. Make a list of your main points.
Understanding the TOEFL question
There are different types of TOEFL essay questions: you may be asked to choose a point of view and support that view or you may be asked to compare two points of view and tell which one you agree with. You may also be asked to describe something or state why something is true/untrue/necessary/unnecessary.
If you are asked to choose a point of view and then support that view, you only need to look at one side of the issue – the side you agree with. Don’t write about both sides. Specifically state which side you are with and support your arguments with details and examples.
If you are asked to compare two points of view and tell which one you are with, you must write about both sides of the issue. You shall not say that you agree with both sides. You must make a choice. First, give support, details and examples of both sides of the issue. Then, tell which side you agree with and why.
Questions that ask you to describe something can be challenging. You need to be creative in answering this type of question.
Parts of the essay
Your essay must have three parts: introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay. It should begin with a general statement about the topic and end with a more specific statement of the main idea of your essay. The purpose of the introduction is to let the reader know what the topic is. It should inform the reader about your point of view and arouse the reader’s curiosity so that he or she will want to read your essay.
The body of your essay should consist of a number of paragraphs in which you develop your ideas in detail. Limit each paragraph to one main idea. Prove your points continually by using specific examples and quotations. Use transition words to ensure a smooth flow of ideas from paragraph to paragraph.
The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay. Its purpose is to summarize your main points, leaving out specific examples. It should restate the main idea of the essay.
Once you have prepared the first draft, revise it. This involves rethinking your ideas, refining your arguments, reorganizing paragraphs, and rewording sentences. You may need to develop your ideas in more detail, give more evidence to support your claims, or delete material that is unnecessary.
Type or write in a clear, large script. Look for careless errors such as misspelled words, incorrect punctuation and capitalization.
Use simple language. Avoid the use of lengthy sentences consisting of many clauses. Let your sentences be short and pithy. However, for the sake of variety and emphasis, a long complex sentence can be added here and there. It will add to the beauty and total effect of the essay.
The essay should be neatly divided into paragraphs. Use transition words to ensure a smooth flow of ideas from paragraph to paragraph.
Use specific examples or reasons to support your ideas. Stories or examples from your personal life are best.
Use present tense for facts and observations. Use past tense to narrate previous experiences. Use modals correctly.
Subjects must agree with verbs and pronouns must agree with antecedents. The basic rule of sentence agreement is really quite simple: A subject must agree with its verb in number. (The number can be singular or plural.)
Your TOEFL essay is graded on a scale of 1 to 6. A score of 1 means that the student is very weak at English writing and giving an opinion in English. A score of 6 shows that the student has excellent English writing skills. An average student should score 3 to 4 in the TOEFL writing test.