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  • 7 Tips for Acing the TOEFL’s Writing Section


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    Incorporate writing practice into your daily activities

    Write notes to yourself, keep a journal, or send emails on a daily basis. Try to incorporate new vocabulary words you’ve learned in order to better remember them.

    Practice taking notes

    In the first part of the writing section, you will be permitted to take notes while you read a short passage and then listen to an accompanying lecture. You’ll be asked to write a short response (150–225 words) based on the reading and the lecture, so practice taking notes that focus on related points from both the reading and the lecture.

    Learn an essay format

    During the TOEFL’s writing section, you will be asked to write a 300-word essay in thirty minutes. Since you’ll have to write quickly, it’s a good idea to have your basic essay format in mind before you even get to the test. Try formatting all your practice essays so they have a one-paragraph introduction that includes your main point, two or three body paragraphs that support that main point, and a concluding paragraph that summarizes your essay.

    Start practicing essays without a timer

    When you first start studying for the TOEFL, don’t time your practice essays. Focus on sentence structure, transitional phrases, and clear writing first, and once you’re more comfortable, give yourself slightly longer than the test time to write another practice essay. Gradually shorten your time so that you’re eventually comfortable writing complete 300-word essays in thirty minutes.

    Focus on the question being asked in the essay prompt

    Your score for the writing section will depend in part on how well your essay responds to the question asked in the prompt, so make sure you’re actually focusing on that question and not getting off topic. If you’re asked for your opinion on a two-sided issue, pick one side rather than trying to argue in favor of both. There’s no wrong answer!

    Avoid unfamiliar vocabulary and punctuation

    Don’t attempt to impress the test scorer by using big words and uncommon punctuation if you don’t have a firm grasp on the spelling, meaning, or proper usage. This section will be scored based on how clearly you’ve communicated your response.

    Leave time to review your essay

    When taking the TOEFL, leave yourself several minutes at the end of the writing section to go over what you’ve written to check for minor mistakes or typos.


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