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Everything TOEFL® Writing

Learn useful information about scoring high in TOEFL writing

About the TOEFL® Writing Section

All Writing Tasks

  • Increase vocabulary and knowledge of idiomatic speech so you can use it appropriately.
  • Learn grammatical structures so well that you can use them naturally when writing.
  • Learn the conventions of spelling, punctuation, and layout (e.g., paragraph creation).
  • Express information in an organized manner, displaying unity of thought and coherence.
  • Use signal words and phrases, such as “on the one hand” or “in conclusion,” to create a clear structure for your response.
  • As you practice ask yourself these questions:
    • Did I complete the task?
    • Did I write clearly?
    • Did I make grammatical errors?
    • Did I use words correctly?
    • Did I organize my ideas clearly and coherently?
    • Did I use the time effectively?
  • Monitor your own progress and ask an English teacher or tutor to evaluate the writing by using the appropriate TOEFL iBT Writing Rubrics.

TOEFL® Independent Writing Task


  • Make a list of familiar topics and practice writing about them.
  • For each topic state an opinion or a preference and then support it with evidence.
  • Practice planning and writing at least one essay for each topic. Be sure to take 30 minutes to plan, write, and revise each essay.
  • Think about and list all ideas related to a topic or task before writing. This is also called "pre-writing".
  • Identify one main idea and some major points to support that idea, and plan how to communicate them (by creating, for example, an outline to organize ideas).
  • Create a focused thesis statement and use it to develop the ideas presented in the essay.
  • Develop the essay by using appropriate explanation and detail.

TOEFL® Integrated Writing Task


  • Find a textbook that includes questions about the material at the end of chapters and practice writing answers to the questions.
  • Read an article that is about 300–400 words long. Make an outline that includes the major points and important details of the article. Use the outline to write a summary of the information and ideas. Summaries should be brief and clearly communicate only the major points and important details. Be sure to paraphrase using different words and grammatical structures.
  • Find listening and reading material on a single topic on the Internet or in the library. The material can provide similar or different views. Take notes on the written and spoken portions, and do the following:
  • Summarize the information and ideas in both the written and spoken portions.
  • Synthesize the information and discuss how the reading and listening materials relate. Explain how the ideas expressed are similar, how one idea expands upon another, or how the ideas are different or contradict each other.
TOEFL Fact: You may take the TOEFL iBT test only once in any seven-day period, even if you took the test and canceled your scores.


Paraphrasing involves restating something from the source material in one’s own words. On the TOEFL iBT, test takers receive a score of zero if all they do is copy words from the reading passage. Practice paraphrasing words, phrases, sentences, and entire paragraphs frequently using the following tips:

  • Learn to find synonyms with ease. Pick 10 to 15 words or phrases in a reading passage and quickly think of synonyms without looking them up in a dictionary or thesaurus.
  • Write a paraphrase of a reading passage using only your notes. If you haven’t taken notes, write the paraphrase without looking at the original text. Then check the paraphrase with the original passage to make sure that it is factually accurate and that you have used different words and grammatical structures.