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Introduction to the TOEFL® writing section

Introduction to the TOEFL® writing section

The writing section is where candidates’ ability to express themselves in writing in the English language in an academic context is tested. In every academic situation that calls for the use of English one must be able to put their ideas down in a clear, well organized manner. Writing is an important skill as one often needs to write a paper or essay response in an exam on what they have gained in class. They then need to combine knowledge gained from listening to lectures, engaging in discussions and reading textbooks and other materials. This is referred to as Integrated Writing for which a test taker must be able to:

  • Take notes on what they hear and read and use those notes to organize information before expressing it in writing.

  • Summarize, paraphrase and cite information accurately from source material.

  • Write linking the information you have read to that which you have heard.

Other types of essays require you to express and support your own opinion. This is called Independent Writing. You express an opinion and then support it drawing from your own knowledge and experience. 

Description of the Writing Section

It consists of writing responses to an integrated task and an independent task. This section is allocated 50 minutes. The integrated task comes first as it requires some listening via headphones. It should take about twenty minutes.  Upon completion one may take off the headphones and use the other thirty minutes to work on the Independent Writing task. The typed responses are then sent to the ETS Online Scoring Network.

The integrated writing task requires you to read a short passage of about three hundred words on an academic topic, taking notes if the so wish. That is followed by a short lecture talking on the same topic but not necessarily from the same perspective for two minutes. Finally you integrate the points made in both presentations into a connected English prose summary of at least 150 words.

The independent writing part involves one writing an essay that states, explains and supports the candidate’s opinion on a given issue. In at least 300 words, one must support their opinions and not just state their preferences.





1 integrated and 1 independent tasks

20 Minutes and 30 minutes



Scoring of Writing Responses

Upon completion follows the online transmission of one’s responses to the ETS Online Scoring Network. The responses are graded by four rater; two humans for the integrated task and one human and one e-rater for the independent task. Responses are rated on a scale of 0-5 as per the scoring guidelines. The average score for the two writing tasks is then converted to a scaled score ranging 0-30.

The score depends on the quality of your writing as well as the completeness and accuracy of content for the Integrated Writing task. The overall quality of your writing and not so much the opinion determines the score for the independent task.

To attain a good score one must master the art of expression and presentation. To learn how to combine content and presentation without losing the balance for optimal results, it may require tutoring beyond just reading.  There are people who have devised means to succeed here and that include us at BestMyTest. We offer the material as well as the skill and put them both to practice in simulated tests so that a candidate is not taken by surprise when they get to the actual test. Feel free to explore our website to learn more.