TOEFL® Integrated Writing Practice

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You'll have 3 minutes to read a passage. After reading, you'll listen to a lecture regarding the same topic you just read. Finally, you'll have 20 minutes to write a response to a question that asks you about the relationship between the lecture you heard and the reading passage. Try to answer the question using information from the reading passage and the lecture.

Typically, an effective response will be 150 to 225 words.

We recommend you practice taking notes with a pen and paper like you will during your TOEFL exam.

Sea otters are a small mammal that lives in the waters along North America's west coast from California to Alaska.  A few years ago some of the sea otter populations off of the Alaskan coast started to decline rapidly and raised several concerns because of their important role in the coastal ecosystem. Experts began investigating and came up with two possible explanations. One explanation was environmental pollution and the second was attacks by predators.

At first it seemed as if the pollution was the most likely cause for the population decline. One reason pollution was more likely was because of the known pollution sources along the Alaskan coast such as oil rigs. Also water samples taken in the area showed increased levels of chemicals that could decrease the otters' immune systems and indirectly result in their deaths.

Another thing that pointed to pollution as the culprit was the decline of other sea mammals such as seals in the same areas. This indicated that whatever was affecting the otters was also affecting the other sea mammals. Environmental pollution usually affects an entire ecosystem instead of just one species. Only predators that occurred in a large area, such as orcas (a large predatory whale), could cause the same effect, but they usually hunt larger prey.

Finally, scientists believed the pollution hypothesis would also explain the uneven pattern of otter decline. In some Alaskan locations the otter population declined greatly while other populations remained stable. Some experts  suggested this could be explained by ocean currents, or other environmental factor, might have created uneven concentrations of pollutants along the coast.

Today's Topic:

Sea otters
Question: Summarize the point made in the lecture and explain how the speaker cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.

Sea otters are a small mammal that lives in the waters along North America's west coast from California to Alaska.  A few years ago some of the sea otter populations off of the Alaskan coast started to decline rapidly and raised several concerns because of their important role in the coastal ecosystem. Experts began investigating and came up with two possible explanations. One explanation was environmental pollution and the second was attacks by predators.

At first it seemed as if the pollution was the most likely cause for the population decline. One reason pollution was more likely was because of the known pollution sources along the Alaskan coast such as oil rigs. Also water samples taken in the area showed increased levels of chemicals that could decrease the otters' immune systems and indirectly result in their deaths.

Another thing that pointed to pollution as the culprit was the decline of other sea mammals such as seals in the same areas. This indicated that whatever was affecting the otters was also affecting the other sea mammals. Environmental pollution usually affects an entire ecosystem instead of just one species. Only predators that occurred in a large area, such as orcas (a large predatory whale), could cause the same effect, but they usually hunt larger prey.

Finally, scientists believed the pollution hypothesis would also explain the uneven pattern of otter decline. In some Alaskan locations the otter population declined greatly while other populations remained stable. Some experts  suggested this could be explained by ocean currents, or other environmental factor, might have created uneven concentrations of pollutants along the coast.

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Read a short passage
03:00

Sea otters are a small mammal that lives in the waters along North America's west coast from California to Alaska.  A few years ago some of the sea otter populations off of the Alaskan coast started to decline rapidly and raised several concerns because of their important role in the coastal ecosystem. Experts began investigating and came up with two possible explanations. One explanation was environmental pollution and the second was attacks by predators.

At first it seemed as if the pollution was the most likely cause for the population decline. One reason pollution was more likely was because of the known pollution sources along the Alaskan coast such as oil rigs. Also water samples taken in the area showed increased levels of chemicals that could decrease the otters' immune systems and indirectly result in their deaths.

Another thing that pointed to pollution as the culprit was the decline of other sea mammals such as seals in the same areas. This indicated that whatever was affecting the otters was also affecting the other sea mammals. Environmental pollution usually affects an entire ecosystem instead of just one species. Only predators that occurred in a large area, such as orcas (a large predatory whale), could cause the same effect, but they usually hunt larger prey.

Finally, scientists believed the pollution hypothesis would also explain the uneven pattern of otter decline. In some Alaskan locations the otter population declined greatly while other populations remained stable. Some experts  suggested this could be explained by ocean currents, or other environmental factor, might have created uneven concentrations of pollutants along the coast.

Listen to part of a lecture on the same topic.
  • library_books Audio Script
    Professor:

    Ongoing investigations have shown that predation is the most likely cause of the sea otter decline after all.

    First, there is a lack of dead sea otters washing up on Alaskan beaches which is not what you would expect from infections caused by pollution killing them off. However, the fact that dead otters are seldom found supports the predator hypothesis. If a predator kills an otter, then it is eaten right away and can't wash up on shore.

    Second, orcas prefer to hunt whales, but whales have essentially disappeared in that area from human hunters. Since the whales are not as available, orcas have had to change their diet to what is available. Since it is only smaller sea animals available, the orcas have probably started hunting those more and created the decline in all of the species mentioned in the passage.

    Finally, predation is a more likely reason for the uneven pattern of otter decline. Otters in locations that are more accessible to orcas are more likely to be hunted. This is supported by the stable populations of otters in shallow rocky locations where orcas can't access.
Question: Summarize the point made in the lecture and explain how the speaker cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.
Word Count: 0
 
Question

Summarize the point made in the lecture and explain how the speaker cast doubt on specific points made in the reading passage.

Your Essay

Please click MOCK TEST to write an essay for this question.

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Review

THIS IS NOT YOUR REVIEW!

It's an example of what you can expect from our writing reviews



Review Status: No review requested Status: (N/A)
Review Summary (Sample)
Score 2 / 5

Get your essay reviewed which includes a writing score, comprehensive feedback on all parts of the essay, and a TOEFL report on each writing criteria.


The below sample is what you can expect from each writing review.

Writing Review Sample:
Sample writing essay
How we review your writing essay Our TOEFL certified instructors will review your writing essay based on the following criteria:
  1. Task Fulfillment
  2. Relevance & Completeness of Information
  3. Grammatical Usage
  4. Vocabulary Usage
  5. Connections & Coherence
  6. Connection between Lecture & Reading
You will receive a score, feedback, and a TOEFL report on each writing criteria. The average score for all criteria will be converted to a score out of 15. This reviewing process imitates how ETS® TOEFL grades a TOEFL writing response.
Task Fulfillment (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Task fulfillment is about how well you respond to the question you are given. TOEFL raters are looking for a response that answers the question directly, with relevant ideas that are fully developed. Fulfilling the task means answering all parts of the question completely.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

The response does not fulfill the requirements of the task, as it contains little meaningful information.

2

The response contains some meaningful information, but does not fulfill the requirements of the task.

3

The response is clearly aimed at the task, although it does not satisfactorily fulfill the requirements.

4

The response fulfills some or most parts of the task.

5

The response completely fulfills the task.

Relevance & Completeness of Information (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Relevance and completeness of information selected is about how you understand and provide information from the reading and lecture. Raters want to see that you can understand main ideas from the lecture and reading passage.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

includes very little, if any, relevant information from the lecture

2

includes some relevant information from the lecture, but omits major ideas

3

includes some relevant information from the lecture, but may fail to include one main idea from the lecture

4

includes all major points from the lecture

5

includes all major points from the lecture and relevant details

Grammatical Usage (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Grammatical usage is about how you use English grammar, sentence structure, and the basic conventions of writing. Raters want to see that you can use what you know correctly, and that you can use a wide variety of structures to express your ideas.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

contains many errors that interfere with meaning

is limited in grammatical range and frequently repetitive

uses mostly simple and repetitive sentence forms (simple and compound sentences)

has few or no attempts at complex senten

2

contains several noticeable problems with form and usage that interfere with meaning

includes some variety of grammatical forms but still contains unnecessary repetition

relies primarily on simple sentence forms (simple and compound sen

3

contains some errors of form and usage that occasionally interfere with meaning

demonstrates reasonable facility with basic structures and clearly attempts complex sentences (though may contain errors)

4

contains some errors of form and usage that do not interfere with meaning

includes a range of structures and sentence types, including some complex structures, used generally effectively

5

contains only very minor errors that never interfere with meaning

includes a variety of grammatical forms used comfortably

makes few or no mistakes with simple sentence forms

includes complex sentences used comfortably and may c

Vocabulary Usage (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Vocabulary usage is about how you use English words. Raters are looking for writing that uses different words correctly and accurately, and that uses a wide range of words that help readers understand.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

includes mistakes with basic word form

includes limited vocabulary, with repetition and reliance on vocabulary from the question prompt

often uses inappropriate or incorrect words or wording

2

may include some incorrect word forms

attempts to use a range of words and phrases but may make errors that confuse the reader

makes somewhat accurate word choice but at times leaves the reader guessing

3

contains some errors in word form that may cause confusion

uses a limited range of words and phrases that is mostly appropriate

makes generally accurate word choice with only some effort by the reader

4

shows general facility with word forms with only minimal errors

uses a good range of words, phrases and possibly some idiomatic language

includes generally accurate word choice that doesn’t require reader effort to understand and some

5

may have only very minor errors in word form

effectively uses a wide range of words, phrases, and idioms

includes generally accurate word choice and at times demonstrates sophistication and precision in vocabulary

Connections & Coherence (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Coherence and connections are about how you put your ideas together and link different sentences to each other. Raters want to see speaking that flows naturally from idea to idea without confusing the listener.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

does not connect ideas

does not use expressions of transition, introduction, or conclusion

2

does not adequately connect ideas, causing some reader confusion

attempts only basic expressions of transition, introduction, or conclusion, but may do so ineffectively or incorrectly

does not feel unified

3

shows some connection between ideas, though several connections may be unclear

includes some basic expressions of transition, introduction, and conclusion

needs to be more strongly unified

4

generally connects ideas well, though a few connections may be unclear

includes expressions of transition, introduction, and conclusion

feels somewhat unified overall

5

connects ideas very clearly

includes a wide range of words and expressions of transition, introduction, and conclusion

feels unified overall

Connection between Lecture & Reading (Sample)
Criteria Description Score & TOEFL Report
Connections between lecture and reading relate to how you compare and contrast the information in the lecture and reading. Raters want to see that you can see the relationship between ideas in different sources and explain that relationship.
Score Description
0

does not address the topic at all or simply repeats words or statements from the reading passage.

1

The response does not make connections between the lecture and reading passage

2

The response fails to accurately explain the connection between lecture and reading or does not mention the connection

3

The response connects the lecture and reading but may lack precision or clarity in describing the connection

4

The response connects the lecture and reading generally quite well, though it may include some slightly vague or imprecise explanation of this connection.

5

The response accurately and effectively connects the ideas in the lecture with the related ideas in the reading passage.

 
Sample Essay

The reading and the lecture are both about theories of the rapid decline in sea otter populations. Whereas the author of the reading states that pollution was the major cause of the decline in sea otter populations, the lecturer suggests that predation is the most likely factor contributing to the reduction in the number of the sea otters. The lecturer casts doubts on the main points made in the reading by providing three reasons.

First of all, according to the reading, the increased levels of pollutants taken from water samples provide evidence for the pollution theory. However, the lecturer disputes this point. He says that if the sea otters had been killed by pollutants in water, they would have been found on shores. Furthermore, he mentions that the absence of dead sea otters on shores indicates that sea otters were killed and eaten by predators.

Secondly, the reading states that aside from sea otters other small sea animals also decreased in population due to pollution. This finding indicates that the pollution is the reason why sea otters are in rapid decline. Nevertheless, the lecturer refutes this argument. He argues that because the whale population decreased, the orcas in the area had to eat otters instead of whales. As a result, the otter population diminished.

Finally, the reading claims that environmental factors, which lead to different levels of pollutant concentration, perfectly explain the uneven pattern of the diminishing sea otter populations. On the other hand, the lecturer believes that the uneven pattern of declining sea otter populations corresponds to the prevalence of orcas in different areas. He thinks that the otter population reduces in places with orcas and there was not a big decrease in otters in places where orcas could not access.

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture are both about hypotheses of the diminishing sea otter populations, the three main points made in the reading are effectively challenged by the lecturer.

Reading passage

Sea otters are a small mammal that lives in the waters along North America's west coast from California to Alaska.  A few years ago some of the sea otter populations off of the Alaskan coast started to decline rapidly and raised several concerns because of their important role in the coastal ecosystem. Experts began investigating and came up with two possible explanations. One explanation was environmental pollution and the second was attacks by predators.

At first it seemed as if the pollution was the most likely cause for the population decline. One reason pollution was more likely was because of the known pollution sources along the Alaskan coast such as oil rigs. Also water samples taken in the area showed increased levels of chemicals that could decrease the otters' immune systems and indirectly result in their deaths.

Another thing that pointed to pollution as the culprit was the decline of other sea mammals such as seals in the same areas. This indicated that whatever was affecting the otters was also affecting the other sea mammals. Environmental pollution usually affects an entire ecosystem instead of just one species. Only predators that occurred in a large area, such as orcas (a large predatory whale), could cause the same effect, but they usually hunt larger prey.

Finally, scientists believed the pollution hypothesis would also explain the uneven pattern of otter decline. In some Alaskan locations the otter population declined greatly while other populations remained stable. Some experts  suggested this could be explained by ocean currents, or other environmental factor, might have created uneven concentrations of pollutants along the coast.

Audio lecture.
  • library_books Audio Script
    Professor:

    Ongoing investigations have shown that predation is the most likely cause of the sea otter decline after all.

    First, there is a lack of dead sea otters washing up on Alaskan beaches which is not what you would expect from infections caused by pollution killing them off. However, the fact that dead otters are seldom found supports the predator hypothesis. If a predator kills an otter, then it is eaten right away and can't wash up on shore.

    Second, orcas prefer to hunt whales, but whales have essentially disappeared in that area from human hunters. Since the whales are not as available, orcas have had to change their diet to what is available. Since it is only smaller sea animals available, the orcas have probably started hunting those more and created the decline in all of the species mentioned in the passage.

    Finally, predation is a more likely reason for the uneven pattern of otter decline. Otters in locations that are more accessible to orcas are more likely to be hunted. This is supported by the stable populations of otters in shallow rocky locations where orcas can't access.
 
TOEFL Integrated Writing Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all Integrated writing questions.

Steps to tackle the TOEFL Integrated Writing Task
Step 1: Read the passage

The passage is important in giving you general background information of the topic. Read the passage carefully and make sure you understand it well. Take notes of the main ideas of the passage but do not go into too many details. Even though there will be a three minute timer for you to read the passage, the passage is actually displayed while you are writing your essay. Your goal while reading the passage the first time should be to understand the main points in each paragraph.

Step 2: Take notes during the lecture

Needless to say, you need to take careful notes during the lecture. Unlike the passage, you will not have a chance to listen to the lecture again, so make sure you take careful notes of either the contrast between the passage and the audio or the similarities. The lecture will provide wither counter examples and disagreements or will provide examples to further prove the passage correct. Every main point from the passage is discussed again in the lecture, but with a different angle and attitude. For example, if the lecture is disagreeing with the reading and the reading says "teamwork allows individuals to respond quicker to their assignments", then the lecture might say "teamwork takes away the opportunities for hard working, talented individuals to be recognized".

Step 3: Organize your response

There are many ways to organize an essay, but there are still a few good rules you can follow. The essay should have three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. See the "TEACHING" tab in Independent Writing for an overview of the basic essay format.

1) Introduction
Write a short and concise introduction for your essay. This introduction should include an explanation of your topic, and how the article and the professor either agree or disagree with each other about the topic. Keep this introduction short. Do not go into details of the reasons. You will only need to introduce the topic briefly, so the reader knows what to expect in the body section.

2) Body
This section should include 2 to 3 paragraphs, each one with the main point that is mentioned in the reading. So each paragraph should start with a sentence that introduces the point to be discussed in the paragraph. Use the specific examples from the article and lectures. Use the same paragraph structure for all the paragraphs in the body section. Remember to start a new line for every paragraph. Don't clump all the paragraph together as a big block, and also do not break a paragraph into many small paragraphs. Each topic should be contained in one paragraph only. Do not copy the article or the lecture into your essay. This is your essay so all the information should be conveyed in your own words. Paraphrase as much as you can. Use a variety of words and sentence structures to avoid repetition in your essay, as well.

3) Conclusion
Write a short conclusion to sum up the whole essay. This conclusion can be considered a paraphrased version of the introduction. Restate the list of the main points and how the article and the professor either agreed or disagreed. Because this is the last section of the essay, many people tend to run out of time do not write a conclusion. First of all, running out of time can be avoided with proper organization and following our process. Secondly, forgetting to write a conclusion is a big mistake that you should avoid. Even if there is only one sentence in the conclusion, you still need to have one. It is essential for an essay to have three sections. Missing one section will make the essay incomplete, and that will cost you some points.

Step 4: Review

You should time yourself so that you have about 5 minutes left to review your essay. Fix typos, check for inconsistencies of the tenses of the verbs, the plurality of the subjects and verbs, and add transition words wherever you see fit. Having good transitions will gain you some extra points. Make sure the essay flows in a logical order.

Writing Template for Scenario 1: Contradiction

This scenario is the most common scenario. In this scenario, the lecture will contradict or cast doubt on the key points in the reading passage.

Writing Template:
The reading and the lecture are both about ______. Whereas the author of the reading states that _______, the lecturer suggests that ________. The lecturer casts doubt on the main points made in the reading by providing two/three reasons.

First of all, according to the reading, _____________ .However, the lecturer disputes this point. He/She says that _________. Furthermore, he/she mentions that ___________

Secondly, the reading states that _______. Nevertheless, the lecturer refutes this argument. He/She argues that __________. In addition, he/she points out ________.

Finally, the reading claims that _________. On the other hand, the lecturer believe that _____. He/She thinks that _______. Moreover, he/she feels that ________

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture are both about _______, the two/three main points made in the reading are effectively challenged by the lecturer.
Writing Template for Scenario 2: Supporting with examples

In this scenario, the main points of the lecture are examples that support the key points in the reading passage.

Writing Template:
The reading and the lecture are both about _____________. The reading states that ____________. The lecture builds upon those same ideas to give a more comprehensive picture with two/three examples.

First of all, according to the reading, _________. Supporting this idea, the lecturer explains that _________. Furthermore, he/she mentions that __________.

Secondly, the reading states that_______. The lecturer then goes on to explain that ________. In addition, he/she points out ________.

Finally, the reading claims that _______. In support of this idea, the lecturer brings up the point that ________. (Optional) Moreover, he/she feels that _________.

In conclusion, although the reading and the lecture both discuss __________, the two/three main points made in the reading are effectively supported by the lecturer.
 
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