Here we’re going inside the TOEFL IBT writing section. Specifically question one, the TOEFL integrated writing question.
In the TOEFL Integrated Writing task, you get 20 minutes to read a short passage and listen to a short lecture, then write in response to what you read and listened to.
About TOEFL Integrated Writing Task
This is the test’s first writing task. In this task, You will first read a passage about a topic. Then you’ll listen to a short lecture related to the same topic, and then you will have 20 minutes to type your response at the computer. There is no maximum length for your response, but typically an effective response has between 150 and 225 words.
You can read the article while working on your essay, but you won’t be able to listen to the lecture again. The TOEFL does not include questions in which the lecture is used to complement the reading.
What is The TOEFL integrated writing question is asking you to do?
First, you’ll see the reading passage and you’ll have three minutes to read it. So as you read, look for the main idea of the passage and take notes about key points that relate to that main idea. You don’t need to memorize the passage because it will reappear on your screen when it’s time to write.
Next, you’ll listen to a lecture. The speaker will talk about the same topic from a different perspective for about two minutes. As you listen, you can take notes on your scratch paper. Listen for information that responds to the points in the reading passage.
You will only hear the listening passage once, and when it’s finished, the reading passage will reappear on your screen along with the question.
And the question will always ask you to:
- Summarize the points made in the lecture.
- And explain how they relate to specific points in the reading passage.
Strategies for what to do as you prepare and write your response
Now that you understand how the question is presented, here are some strategies for what to do as you prepare and write your response.
As we mentioned about the reading passage, it’s important to identify the main idea, which is usually in the first paragraph, and see how it’s developed.
Usually, there will be three points that support that main idea. For this passage. About computerized vo ting, the main idea is stated in the first paragraph. And you’ll find the three supporting points in the next three paragraphs.
In the listening passage, the speaker is going to indicate his or her perspective near the beginning of the lecture, so be sure to listen carefully.
Then, when you’re taking notes during the listing passage, remember that you’re looking for specific points that relate to the points in the reading
After you find those key points in the lecture, you may be able to match up those points with the main points from the reading.
Finally, and this may sound obvious, make sure you answer the question. The question will always ask you to summarize the lecture, and it will always ask you how the lecture responds to the points made in the reading passage. So if you only write about what’s in the reading passage, you’re not answering the question.
TOEFL Integrated Writing Scores
Before the test, make sure you understand what the readers are looking for and how each question is scored.
The tasks in the writing section will each be given an overall score from zero to five. For question one, the integrated writing question raters are looking for three main things:
- Accurate Development,
- and Language Use.
First, accurate development:
The raters are looking for how well you’re able to select important information from the lecture, then clearly present it in relation to the relevant information from the reading.
This basically means a reader can read your essay from beginning to end without becoming confused. You can help the reader follow your ideas by writing in paragraphs and using good transitions and avoid redundancy, which is saying the same things over and over just using different words.
The third criterion is Language Use:
Raters are looking for things like sentence structure, word choice, and vocabulary. It’s also important that your use of grammar is strong and consistent, though it doesn’t have to be perfect to get a top score.
Tips to Improve your Writing Skills
Here are a few tips that can help you improve your writing skills.
First, practice paraphrasing, which is expressing the same idea in different ways. Knowing how to paraphrase is important because it gives you more options. When you need to respond to a question, you can practice paraphrasing just about anything a news article, a television ad, an email from a friend, a poem, basically anything you read or hear. To be able to paraphrase well and to write well, you need to build your vocabulary. It’s important to be able to use synonyms of keywords when you write.
Next, remember how we said it was important to be able to identify main points. You can practice this by listening to recorded lectures and writing down what the main points are. This is a great activity to do with a study partner because you can compare notes.
Finally, Read two articles that are on the same topic and write a summary of each. Then explain the ways in which they are similar and the ways that they’re different.
There are lots of ways to improve your English skills but whatever you do, keep practicing and good luck on your TOEFL task.