Paraphrasing Practice to Improve Writing

One way to improve your TOEFL essay writing is to practice paraphrasing.

Take a paragraph from an academic text and rewrite it. Put the writer’s ideas into your own words. This will help you get used to restating ideas found in the academic passages that appear throughout the TOEFL iBT. Here's an example of how you can do this:


Read the following passage and paraphrase it by putting it into your own words.

In 1610, Galileo Galilei published a small book describing astronomical observations that he had made of the skies above Padua. His homemade telescopes had less magnifying and resolving power than most beginners’ telescopes sold today, yet with them he made astonishing discoveries: that the moon has mountains and other topographical features; that Jupiter is orbited by satellites, which he called planets; and that the Milky Way is made up of individual stars. From David Owen, “The Dark Side: Making War on Light Pollution,” The New Yorker (20 August 2007): 28.

Possible Paraphrase

There is not a single correct answer, but you could paraphrase the above passage by writing something like this:

Galileo was able to make some amazing discoveries with his telescope. He made discoveries about the moon, about Jupiter, and about the Milky Way. He was able to do this with a telescope that was less powerful than even today's most basic telescopes.

Your paraphrase doesn't have to be a work of art. However, it should contain the author's main ideas and it should be written in your own words. You can find more passages for paraphrasing on the pages that follow.


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