Archive for the 'integrated writing' Category

Integrated Introduction: Barron’s

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Barron’s Writing for the TOEFL iBT (3rd edition) teaches a one- or two-sentence introduction for the integrated essay. When the reading and listening contrast with each other:

The author explains that […explain the main idea of the reading…].  The speaker, however, suggests that […explain the main idea of the listening…].

And when the listening supports or adds to the reading, the typical Barron’s introduction looks like this:

The author explains that […explain the main idea of the reading…], and the speaker suggests that […explain the main idea of the listening…].

Conclusions in the Integrated Essay

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Unlike in the indepentent writing, the conclusion for the TOEFL integrated essay need be only one or two sentences long. Here is an example:

In conclusion, the reading passage offers an overview of the French Revolution. In the listening, the professor explains three possible causes of the Revolution: government debt, heavy taxation, and social unrest.

Here’s another:

In conclusion, while the reading claims that the French Revolution was brought about by the emergence of Enlightenment principles, the professor disagrees.  The professor suggests that the Revolution was a result of economic turmoil and social unrest.

In both cases, the conclusion is short and sweet: a quick mention of the reading and the professor’s main points.

Conclusions in the TOEFL Integrated Essay

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Is a conclusion necessary in the integrated essay? Good quesetion! A lot of TOEFL books don’t think so:

  • Longman
  • Delta
  • Hackers
  • Barron’s

Still, there are many well-known books that do advise students to write a conclusion:

  • Princeton Review
  • Cambridge
  • Kaplan
  • Thomson

Best is to play it safe: write a short (one- or two-sentence) conclusion.

Phrases to Learn for the TOEFL Integrated Essay

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

It is absolutely essential that you read the integrated essay question carefully. This will help you understand how the text and reading relate to each other. There are a limited number of questions you can be asked, so you should be familiar with all of them. According to ETS, the integrated question will be similar to the following:

  1. How does the listening passage cast doubt on
  2. How does the listening passage challenge
  3. How does the listening passage answer
  4. How does the listening passage support
  5. How does the listening passage strengthen

It is also a good idea to be familiar with a few other phrases, just to be safe. Some TOEFL books have phrased the integrated question with the following:

  1. How does the listening passage add to
  2. How does the listening passage support
  3. How does the listening passage relate to
  4. How does the listening passage contrast
  5. How does the listening passage differ from

As you can see, the way the question is asked will usually tell you whether the listening material agrees with the reading material.

TOEFL Integrated Essay Practice and Correction

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Many students already use the online TOEFL essay correction service to practice writing Independent Essays. They write essays online and a native speaker of English corrects it for them. However, not many students know that they can also practice their Integrated Essays.  Students use their own materials to read a text and listen to a lecture. Then they write an essay and send it to the teacher by email. When you sign up, just be sure to mention what materials you’re using, so the teacher can give you more accurate feedback.

Spelling in the TOEFL Essay

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

In an ideal world, you should have no spelling mistakes in your TOELF essays. However, the world is never ideal, and nobody’s writing is ever perfect.  Everybody makes mistakes, even native speakers of English. (In fact, you’ll probably be able to find some spelling mistakes in these blog posts!)  If you spell reasonably well in English, don’t worry too much about your spelling on the TOEFL essay.

It is possible to get a high score on your TOEFL essay even if you misspell a few words. However, if you make a mistake, it should be an honest mistake. For example, if you spell the word mistake as mstake, it is obvious that this is a typo, a simple mistake made while typing. However, spelling will affect your score in the following situations:

  1. You misspell the same word throughout the essay. In this case, it becomes clear that the problem is more than a simple typo.
  2. You misspell a very basic word. For example, you spell read as reed.  Such a basic mistake is a clear indication that your level of English may be quite low.
  3. You misspell so many words that it becomes distracting when reading the essay. Ths is wat i mean by mispeliign many wrds.  In this case, it is obvious that you did not have enough time to proofread your essay.

If there are some words that you often misspell, memorize them and learn to spell them correctly. If you make many mistakes while typing, always leave 5 minutes to proofread your essay before submitting it. 

How Many Paragraphs Should a TOEFL Essay Have?

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Here are a few recommendations for writing a TOEFL essay:

Independent Essay
The TOEFL Independent Essay can have either four or five paragraphs. For a four-paragraph essay, here is the structure:

PARAGRAPH 1: Introduction
PARAGRAPH 2: Main point/idea 1
PARAGRAPH 3: Main point/idea 2
PARAGRAPH 4: Conclusion

The structure for the five-paragraph essay is almost the same:

PARAGRAPH 1: Introduction
PARAGRAPH 2: Main point/idea 1
PARAGRAPH 3: Main point/idea 2
PARAGRAPH 4: Main point/idea 3
PARAGRAPH 5: Conclusion

Both the four-paragraph essay and the five-paragraph essay are acceptable. However, it is much more difficult to write a five-paragraph essay. With the 30-minute time limit, it is difficult to develop three paragraphs with strong supporting statements containing details and examples.

For more information about how to write an Independent Essay, visit the site’s essay writing tutorial.

Integrated Essay
There are two acceptable structures for the TOEFL Integrated Essay. The first is called block format:

PARAGRAPH 1: Introduction
PARAGRAPH 2: Main points from the reading
PARAGRAPH 3: Main points from the listening
PARAGRAPH 4: Conclusion

The second structure is called the point-by-point:

PARAGRAPH 1: Introduction
PARAGRAPH 2: First main point from the reading + first main point from the listening
PARAGRAPH 3: Second main point from the reading + second main point from the listening
PARAGRAPH 4: Conclusion

Both essay structures are correct. Some TOEFL books only teach block format.  Others only teach the point-by-point. Still other TOEFL books teach both!  You can use either format, as long as you use it properly.

TOEFL Essay: Never Use All CAPS

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Here’s another example of what you should never do:


This is not acceptable in an essay. Using all capital letters sends the signal that you are unfamiliar with even the most fundamental rules of writing in English. Moreover, it makes the essay difficult and irritating to read.  One more time: NEVER USE ALL CAPS!

TOEFL Essay: Never Make a List

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Here’s an example of what you should never do:

I think making a bad decision is better than making no decision at all. There are three reasons why I believe this is true:

  1. Making a decision, even if it is a bad one, still constitutes action.
  2. One will be able to learn from the bad decision.
  3. Making a decision is exercising the mind.

Making a decision, even if it is a bad one, constitutes action…

Never make a list of items. This is not acceptable in academic essays like the ones in the TOEFL exam. The purpose of the TOEFL essay is to assess how well you can organize information in complete sentences. These sentences should be arranged in a logical order to form paragraphs, not lists of thoughts and ideas.

TOEFL Resources

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

From time to time our TOEFL essay correctors publish TOEFL or ESL articles online. Here are a few that have recently appeared:

The Best Books for the TOEFL iBT
How to Pass the TOEFL Test
How to Write a TOEFL iBT Essay

If you find the articles useful, consider signing up for one of our TOEFL essay correction programs. You can also practice your TOEFL writing online for free.